I had a strange new experience tonight and I’m not sure how I feel about it. While walking home last night, with the weather a perfect mixture of warmth and calm, I had a moment in which I wanted to cry. I was overwhelmed by the desire to shed tears in public. It wasn’t because I was sad, though. It was because I was immensely happy. On my walk home, I felt the urge to cry tears of joy.
What prompted this unadulterated joy?
I saw The Avengers.
Fine. That’s not the only thing that prompted this. I did see The Avengers last night. It was great (if you haven’t seen it, or you plan to go a second time, it’s well worth waiting all the way until the credits have ended), but it is not solely responsible. What brought on this bout of elation was a combination of about a dozen mimosas, some good friends, and an admonition. An admonition that I am going to share with all of you.
After seeing The Avengers (I am going to mention the movie title at least 70 times so that people mistakenly read this thinking it’s about the movie), my friends–let’s call them Eleanor and Grover–and I went to get cupcakes. Why? Why wouldn’t you get cupcakes after seeing a movie about Robert Downey, Jr. making fun of people? (In case you weren’t aware, that movie is The Avengers.) We ate these cupcakes while enjoying the tranquility of a Union Square bench. Our topics of conversation varied from where we’d like to live in the city to Craigslist fetishes to adoption. Grover mentioned that he had recently decided not to have children of his own because he didn’t want to pass on his genes. “I have terrible genetics!” I think he said. Then he continued to brag about being one of the youngest, award-winning (nominated?–I don’t remember, I wasn’t totally paying attention, but I’ll just say winning because that’s more impressive) members of the Writer’s Guild of America. Yeah, those genes suck.
We continued discussing other people’s relationships (who doesn’t?), the unlikelihood of me being a successful dominatrix, and our impending adulthood.
Eleanor asked, “Do you ever feel like adults?” The resounding response to that was “definitely not.” I admitted that I sometimes feel grown-up when I feed my cat, but in cat years she’s, like, 40 so I’m actually the kid in that relationship. When I mentioned that I have no idea what I want to do with my life, Grover reprimanded me and insisted that I “get on that;” a second later he admitted that he didn’t know what he was doing with his life either. Neither did Eleanor. Except..these two people do know what they want to do with their lives and are active in their pursuit of their aspirations. For that, I admire them both.
Here’s the thing: I lied. I know what I want to do with my life. I am, however, not ready to accept it.
I have not known what I wanted to do since I was seven. If I pursued my first-grade dreams, I would be a police officer living in an earthquake-stricken split-level; at least, those are the cards I always wanted when I played The Game of Life (nothing fosters sibling rivalry like Life). In kindergarten, I wanted to be a paleontologist because who wouldn’t want to dig up dinosaur bones? From third grade through my sophomore year of high school I was “going” to be an actress. Despite my not-even-close-to-Hollywood-good-looks appearance, my inability to sing or dance, and my mediocre acting talent, I had no doubts that I would succeed in that business. Eventually, this reality struck me and I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer (a prosecutor, more specifically), then a criminal psychologist, then a child psychologist for most of my time in college. Among my other potential career options were: journalist, game show host ( I’d still like to replace Alex Trebek as the host of Jeopardy! one day), social worker, nurse, copy writer/Peggy from Mad Men, teacher, and bum. Clearly, I have a very specific sense of direction and a good handle on my skill set.
The people who read this thinking it was actually about The Avengers, but haven’t stopped reading for God knows what reason, are probably wondering when I’m going to get to a point.
I want to be a writer.
I’d like to write essays and novels; I’d like to write young-adult novels and children’s books (I did study child psychology). I want to publish poetry (great career move) and even plays. I’d like to write childrens’ books for adults; I’d like to write a memoir about my family because someone needs to tell that story and it won’t be my family. I don’t want to write the next big screenplay (although, if offered the job I wouldn’t say no). I don’t want, or expect, to pen the next Harry Potter or the next Hunger Games. I certainly don’t want to write the next Twilight. I’m not interested in writing news articles. I don’t want to write sketch comedy or stand up or any of that. I want to write my stuff. And I want to make money doing it. Truckloads of money, preferably, but I’ll start with wheelbarrows full of money.
Also, I’d like to teach writing. I’d like to teach college students, or even high school troublemakers, about the craft I love. As a psych undergrad, I taught other psych undergrads, which was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Even though psychology is not writing, after years of tutoring, I’ve found that I love teaching, whatever the subject (unless it’s Chemistry because I don’t even know what Chemistry is, frankly). And I don’t want to teach kindergarteners–they’re sticky.
Why couldn’t I admit this to my friends in the park? My friends, by the way, are both trying to be screenwriters/filmmakers and generally awesome creative people. They wouldn’t judge me. Even my parents would support me in whatever I choose to do. So who am I lying to?
My hesitance to come to terms with this career choice was not because of how I believed others would judge me; it was a lack of confidence in my decision. I’ve wanted to be so many things that I don’t know if I have a passion anymore. Thanks to The Avengers, I was reminded that I do. I saw someone’s vision come to life on-screen with two friends hoping to have the same thing happen for them one day. I realized that’s what I want, too. Though I’m not hoping to see my words acted out by impossibly muscly men (although I wouldn’t object), I want the pleasure of knowing that someone else enjoyed the words I chose to put together on a page.
Oh. And smashing things. I’d like to see more of that, too.