AWAI Writing Challenge Honorable Mention:
My siblings and I were taught to give up before we even began. “Do you know how many other people are trying to do that? Why are you any better?” I never felt like I was, so I abandoned my dreams of becoming an actress, author, singer, poet, astronaut, and/or princess. Instead, I spent many years as a waitress, a bookkeeper, and a shop laborer.
As a teenager, the students in the campus ministry taught me many good things. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way I came to believe that I would know when I was on the right life path; there would be no barriers, no mishaps, no snags whatsoever. The right path would be perfect. That belief led me to stop pursuing a goal at the first sign of resistance, the first unreturned call, the first day I had the slightest doubt. I lived a life of serendipity, learning a lot but not really accomplishing very much at all.
As a mother, I wanted better for my children. I had read many uplifting stories, studied the wisdom of personal help gurus, and tried to find the magical path that I knew was out there. I could feel it, and I was growing increasingly frustrated by its elusiveness. I never told my children about my dreams, but I always encouraged them to pursue what made them happy. When things didn’t go as planned, I pointed out the positive when they were still in the middle of the negative, and it truly seemed to uplift them. I encouraged them to continue on toward their goals.
As my children were growing, I had quite a few jobs before I finally found one I enjoyed, that also offered good benefits. After working there for four years, I lost my job, as did half of my coworkers. I felt betrayed and frustrated – I had always been told to get a good job and stay there until retirement. That was obviously not a good plan, because many other companies were downsizing and masses of people with more experience and education than I were also job hunting. The good news was, I got the summer off with my children and we had a great time, too!
When fall arrived, my daughter asked me to complete a school form. I was still unemployed, but when the form requested my “Occupation” I entered “Writer”. Of all the times for my daughter to pay attention! She sternly said to me, “You’re not a writer!” She might as well have said, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” To my surprise, I argued with her. In my mind, I knew I was a writer waiting for a magic path to open up in front of me; the path would lead me to fame and riches.
I was nervous when I first went looking for a writing project. What if I couldn’t find one? What if no one would hire me? What if someone DID hire me? What if I stunk at it? I knew I had to try, that I had already waited too long to get started. Maybe this was the magic path, and I had just been too afraid to go down it? I had to know.
When I secured my first freelance writing project, I was ecstatic. I was still nervous, because I could barely believe that I was being paid to do something I loved, something that millions of others dreamed of doing and, in fact, were doing. As I shared the details of my adventures (that’s how I think of my writing assignments) with my young adult children, they saw my dreams coming true. My daughter even made a sign and placed it over my office door while I was out of town (a client had flown me across the states to research a book he hired me to write). The sign was spectacular – it said “Ghostwriter”.
Even though I am certainly thankful for those events, it is not the one thing I am especially thankful for in 2009. I am thankful that my three children have all taken to making their dreams come true.
My son is working in a career he longed for his whole life, and is a firefighter and medic; in fact, he completed all his schooling and training by the time he was 20. It was no easy task, I assure you.
My oldest daughter received her Computer Science degree and has been struggling to find a job – after attending many interviews and pushing through the frustration and doubt, she just won a very good position at a company with people who value the same things she does.
And my youngest daughter is engaged to a wonderful young man; they are struggling with loneliness as she pursues her degree at the school where they met. He is nine hours away, completing an internship. My daughter could have quit school to be closer to him, but she had a goal to get her degree, and she will. They will marry in May, just before her 21st birthday. Yes, they’re young – but they each had a list of what they wanted in a spouse, and when they got serious about each other they compared notes. When everything on the lists match, and I can see the love in their eyes, who am I to put doubt in their minds?
When I see my children persevering through difficulties, reaching their goals and living their dreams – how can I be anything less than overjoyed and thankful beyond measure?