So, something occurred to me today when I read a fellow writer’s blog, and it really has nothing to do with writing. More about life. But, I said this blog was going to about more than writing, so here goes.
When I was growing up, I was imbued with a ridiculously high level of optimism in my ability to do anything. I was smart. I could be anything that I wanted to be. Trouble was, I had extremely low self-esteem and, as it turned out, a stage-fright type anxiety disorder that would go undiagnosed for 35 years. For a while, I was convinced that I could do anything I wanted…that anything I chose to do would come easy to me. Yep, I was delusional.
Despite having no money, I was told that I would “get scholarships” for college. I was a B student who was a mediocre soccer player and an average singer. They don’t give scholarships for mediocre. But, I went ahead and got myself into the college that my Mom liked. On a whim, took Chemistry as my major (sounded cool to say, “I’m a Chem major”). And, promptly flunked out the following Spring. When the reality of life came crashing in on me, I was completely caught off guard.
Why was this happening to me? I’m a smart guy. I thought I could do anything! They didn’t tell me it would be this hard! It would take me another 11 years to climb over that hurdle of a college education.
I became an English major. This time, it wasn’t on a whim. It came naturally to me…and, I happened to enjoy it. Go figure. So, where exactly does the fault lie? Should I have been responsible at the age of 17 to say “No, I don’t think I’m ready”? And now, how do I, as the parent of a 5-year-old, not repeat history? How do you instill self-esteem and confidence without creating a monster that thinks it can do anything, whether it has a passion for it or not? How do you mold a child into someone who seeks personal happiness and fulfillment but avoids narcissism?
It's a shame that we push teenagers to figure their lives out. I'm 35 now and I still don't have it together! Why should I expect a 17 year old to know what he/she wants to do with the rest of their life? And, yet, that's what we do when we push them to college...or out into the workforce. "You should really start thinking about your future." I've said those words and instantly hated myself for repeating the rhetoric that was slung at me. I've met more people who wish they could go back and change what they've done than I care to admit. What we really need is a chance at a do-over. One free shot at getting it right the second time. Some of us get that opportunity by accident. Some of us are lucky enough to get more than one! Still others never get the chance.
With writing, I’d like to believe, it's never too late to start. Anyone can write. It’s true. The good writers, the ones we read over and over again, are the ones who have a passion for it. I’ve found my passion after all these years. I’ve taken my stab at a second chance. I hope it comes out in my writing.
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