2009-2019: From Wishing to Working

2009: I’m 25. I’m two years away from finishing my graduate degree in Social Work. I’m a year away from getting married. Six years away from having my first son. And countless soul-searching breakdowns away from figuring out why I am so dreadfully unhappy.

I spend a lot of my time crying. A lot of my time wishing I could figure out what the hell is going on. I know I have so much. I get to marry the love of my life, I’m in a reputable grad program, I have amazing friends, a loving family. Life is staggeringly good to me. Why is there still a crack in my heart? Am I that f-cking ungrateful?

I ignore these questions for awhile. I do shots with my friends, yell in crowded bars, dance late into the night, and manage to carry on with nothing but a slight headache to show for it (ah, youth). I’m on a career track I don’t know how to stop, so I just keep going.

I pour myself into my graduate program, do well, make friends. I’m still unhappy. I wait for something, but I don’t yet know what.

2010: I’m 26. I get married. We have the most kick-ass wedding and I can feel the tide of my tumult trying to turn. I run my fingers down the spines of every book I read on my honeymoon with a resigned longing. I’ll never do this. I tell myself that’s fine.

2011: I’m 27. I graduate at the top of my class and line up a job. I work hard. Grinding, heartbreaking days with kids experiencing the worst mental health crises of their lives. I dedicate myself to the lives and livelihood of my clients. I love making a difference (though it’s rare). I love righting some of the injustices in their worlds (though even rarer). Through it all, I am still deeply unsatisfied and restless.

Then. One random afternoon, after sobbing in my office, I write a (bad) short story. I feel a wellspring of hope bubble up from the center of myself. I write more. All the time. I don’t tell anyone.

2012: I’m 28. Breakdowns slowly turn into breakthroughs. I wake up to the alarm bells of my own mind. Get in tune with the rhythms of my yearnings. I feel euphoric with hope, though there’s still much to tackle.

I confront the ‘buts’ first.

But I don’t even know how to write.

But I just spent all this time and money on a GRADUATE degree in this WHOLE OTHER FIELD.

But I thought I could shove this artistic and creative yearning away forever.

I consume. I read craft books, and author’s blogs, and watch YouTube vlogs about writing. I write a few more (bad) stories.

I battle the ‘what-ifs’.

What if I’m a bad writer forever?

What if everyone thinks I’m an idiot for trying this?

What if I AM an idiot?

2013: I’m 29. I feel a sense of urgency that if I don’t try now, I’ll regret it forever. I choose to be brave. I tell my people I’m writing. Because that’s all I do. All the time. More bad stories. Half a novel. A private blog with my sisters. Reviews of television shows just for my own enjoyment. A sort-of novel during my first NaNoWriMo. I apply for a freelance job as a contributing writer on a (now defunct) television review website. I get it. Suddenly I have a byline and am writing to deadline several times a week.

2015: I’m 31. I have a baby I adore but new motherhood is overwhelming. I don’t write for two years. I develop postpartum depression and an all-too familiar feeling of restlessness. I cry a lot again.

2017: I’m 33. I feel aimless and hopeless. My husband gets me a laptop for Mother’s Day. “Write” he tells me. I do. I start this blog. I start my book. I make writer friends. I push through imposter syndrome and self-doubt. I write like my life depends on it, because it does.

Some of that writing gets published.

I feel a shift in the wind and double-down. I treat my writing like a job. My husband and I structure our lives around it. When I’m not full-time momming, I’m writing. I write my novel. I learn and struggle and grow and improve. I work evenings, nap times, weekends, every chance I get for two years and I don’t look up. I finally stop looking up.

2019: I’m 35. I still cry. I still feel restless. But now it’s usually when my novel, that I finished, and believe to be good, that my agent is submitting to publishers, gets rejected. (Which sucks and is happening a lot. But still. It’s happening.)

I’m ambitious and goal-oriented and tend to get caught up in all I don’t achieve, rather than celebrate what I do. I think too much about the fact there is no guarantee I’ll achieve my dream as a published author any time soon (if at all). But I also remember that though it may not be next year, it may not be this book, I’ve learned this decade that the dreaming is nothing without the doing.

I sit down one afternoon to really think on the abundance of gifts I’ve received this decade. My husband. My children. My education. My heartache. My lessons. I write this post and realize in stunning simplicity the most profound change of all. In 2009, I wished.

In 2019, I write.

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9 thoughts on “2009-2019: From Wishing to Working

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  1. This is such an inspirational story for budding writers everywhere! So thrilled you’ve grown so much over the past 10 years and wishing you and your writing all the best for the future! 😀


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