Part of the joy of being a blogger is making connections with other bloggers. Recently, one of my blogging buddies honored me by sharing with me this essay she wrote. She prefers to remain anonymous and did not publish this on her blog, but I asked her if I could publish it on my mine because I think it touches on a theme that is important. In fact, I was in the middle of writing a post on the subject of creativity when I received this. I'll publish that in the near future. Today, though, I present this post, written straight from a beautiful heart.
I still remember the card my mother gave me when I graduated high school. It is tucked beneath a stack of other cards in my keepsake box, a remembered insult among the other chosen memories.
The card boasts a Maya Angelou quote; one that is quite fitting for those embarking on their college and life journeys. But in my sudden switch from a lifelong dream of education to pursuing a degree in business administration, that quote smacked of judgment. "Don't make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off of you."
In principle, I knew money should never be the goal. Duh. Yet after a childhood spent worrying over money, I was determined to get a white collar job that allowed me to provide a decently middle class upbringing for my future children. If that upbringing could be above middle class, all the better. In hindsight, Mom did not mean to lecture or insult. She was not judging me. Rather, she wanted to ensure I saw a lifetime of happiness. As a mother myself, I now know without a doubt that that is all she wants for me. Happiness.
At 21, I graduated from college and the reality of my dream was quickly realized by securing a once-in-a-lifetime job with multiple promotional opportunities. At 26, a wife, mother of one and full-time employee, I make more than a humble salary. At one point, I made almost three times more than my husband. As of this last winter, I "only" make twice as much as him. I am incredibly proud of my achievements and am thrilled to be married to a man who embraces this modern dynamic of me out-earning him. Many would say I am accomplished and successful; that I have excelled and have a bright future ahead of me. When you look at the numbers, they are right.
Yet I woke one morning not long after giving birth to my son with a startling realization: I am not happy. Far from it, in fact. The next promotional steps do not appeal to me, and as the principle breadwinner I feel trapped by my salary. I have effectively hit my glass ceiling, one of my own making, at my current place of employment. As a mother I am not interested in investing the extra time to further myself. As an unfulfilled employee, the glitz and glamour has faded. Going to work each day after maternity leave was a chore and eventually I found myself miserably dragging myself out of bed each morning, ever-so-tempted by the pull of a mental health day. The misery began affecting my marriage. My husband could not understand why I didn't try harder to find another job. I constantly looked at listings, but none of them appealed to me. Why waste my time if it isn't going to make me happy? I asked myself. Sure, one could argue that you never know until you try, but I know myself. Then, after months and years of fretting, it suddenly hit me.
I am meant to write.
The what, where, and why didn't matter in that moment. What mattered was the realization that suddenly sprang before me with startling clarity. I had spent my entire life ignoring numerous affirmations that I am meant to write. Affirmations from myself and others. God knew. Of course He knew. But unable to imagine how a writing career would unfold for me and noting its unrealistic nature, I ignored it.
I still don't know if or how a writing career will happen for me. Will I be successful by society's definition? I don't know. I don’t even really care. What I do know is this: ever since I knew how to form words with pen to paper, I have needed to write. It is as necessary to me as breathing is to us all. Without it, I am not whole. I am not well. Writing is what sets my soul free.