I think that everyone should have a job that they like (and if they love their job, even better). A person’s job takes up such a significant part of a person’s life that they really should be able to enjoy it. How a person feels about how they make a living really affects the life that person is living. I have yet to find that job which really fulfills me. And I know that I am really the only one to blame for that.
I knew from the time I was seven-years-old what I would be happiest doing. That is when I sat down in front of my Mom’s typewriter and hunted and pecked out a stage play on multi-coloured paper. I don’t remember the name of the play or what it was about; just that I loved the process of creating characters and situations in my mind and letting them escape out onto the paper. In the years that followed, I filled boxes with books and books with poetry and stories in many forms. There was nothing I could ever really see myself doing other than writing. All through my childhood and teen years I dreamed of a future of being a published writer. It’s the only thing I was ever really good at and the only thing I ever really loved to do.
There were always people in my life who showed interest in reading my writing and who told me I had talent. But there was never a person in my life who knew how to support me in realizing my dream. As I got older I began listening to the people who told me that there was no future in writing. A part of me began to believe that I couldn’t make a living with writing. I was scared of wasting my time doing something that would make me poor. When I was twenty I became a single mother. I needed to support my daughter and myself. I needed to do something "realistic".
I’ve had many different jobs, but I always found myself looking at myself in the mirror in the ladies room thinking, “This is a temporary job--just until I find the one that suits me.”
Two years ago I had the opportunity to go to school to be educated for a "realistic" career. It was a Quick Start program, which meant that they crammed a whole lot of information into our heads in a small amount of time, so that we could quickly get out into the work force.
Early Childhood Education is an area that I feel is important, so I knew that I was sure to love it. To begin with, I did. I did very well in school, and I adored every minute of my job placement in a preschool class. But when I was done school, I couldn’t find a job. I applied everywhere in my city, but everyone was hiring people with more experience. Really? How exactly does one get experience then?
I decided instead to open a home day care. I was somewhat hesitant, but the pros seemed to outweigh the cons. I kept hearing that there was a huge demand for child care. I’d be my own boss. I like children. I’d be doing something worthwhile.
The hesitation came from my severe case of Youngest Child Syndrome. They will probably write “Don’t TOUCH that! It‘s MINE!” on my grave stone. I’m not greedy by any means, but my stuff is my stuff and keep your grubby hands off of it. Did you think I wouldn’t notice that you put my Spider-Man DVD back in the wrong spot? Gosh, people. Youngest Child Syndrome stems from us getting all the crap handed down to us from our older siblings and never really having anything of our own. So the thought of a bunch of kids coming into my house and grabbing at all of my stuff caused me some anxiety. I love kids. I just don’t love the idea of their mitts all over my stuff.
When Patience was little I looked forward to the time when I no longer had to keep everything out of her reach and I could decorate my home the way that I wanted to. Now that she is older, I didn’t want to have to put everything up high again to have a day care in my home. I don’t have a finished basement, which would have made a world of difference. If I did, I could have put aside that section of the house for the day care. Then there’d be a day care in my house, but if I had to child proof my living area then I’d be living in a day care. I don’t want to live in a day care. I found a way around it. I’d only accept older children. Preschool and up; children who are old enough to understand that the toys are for them and all of the other things are not for them. The problem is that most people need care for toddlers.
At the end of this month I will have been doing the home day care for a full year. I work eleven hours most days and I am not even making enough money to survive. I am tired all of the time and I am convinced that my sore back is a physical manifestation of stress. The kids are great; it’s the adults that are hard to deal with. Recently I had a few calls for people needing care for toddlers and I said I would meet with them. I started picturing myself pulling out my hair as adorable tiny people invaded my shelves, but I needed the money. I struggled with this, because I always said that people should never ever work with children simply for the money. However, neither of the people that I spoke to showed up when they said that they would, and I haven’t heard from either of them in almost two weeks now. I took that as a resounding sign. It really is time for me to move on. I’d rather be unhappy in a job in which I make more money and only have to work eight hours a day.
For the past few days I’ve been looking at job postings and trying to figure out what I’m going to do. What can I do that I’ll enjoy? What am I good at? What will fulfill me? I know with every ounce of my being that there is only one answer. There only ever has been one answer for me, and that is writing.
I realize that I need to do something while I’m working toward my goal. If it’s flipping burgers at McDonald’s, so be it, as long as it pays the bills and I still have something of myself left to give at the end of the day. But I have lost so much time to fear. I was so afraid of failing with my writing that I never even tried. I’m filled with great regret because of that. Not trying was my biggest failure of all.
In November I participated in NaNoWriMo (writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days). I put my all into it. I lost my sanity at times, and I never felt so good in my life. The experience of watching the characters and story evolve before my eyes was amazing. It showed me that I could do something that I wasn’t sure of for so long. And if I could do that, what else can I do? What else is just sitting there inside of me, waiting to be done?
I have said before that I was going to work toward being a writer and then I changed my mind. But I know things now that I didn’t know then. I know how it feels to write every day and create a great chunk of a novel. I also know that nothing else will ever make me as happy as writing. So I am going to work toward being a writer. Full-time. And if I fail, at least I’ll fail trying.