Thursday, July 3, 2008

"It's Your Thing...

...Do What You Wanna Do!"

The radio wasn't on, the stereo was silent, but I was grooving to that song as I worked in the kitchen this morning. As I twirled around and shook my hips, I started pondering about the lyrics of the song. An odd moment for deep introspection, but there you go.

So what's my thing?

I asked myself that question a few times over the course of the day. What do I wanna do? What defines me, gives me purpose, and makes me happy?

Now I'd love to go on and on about how I'm destined to be a wife and mother and that this is the culmination of my existence and nothing else makes me as fulfilled and happy as my current role in life. But that simply isn't the case.

What I love to do is read, write, and learn. Ever since I was about eight years old, my greatest love in life has been the written word. I would read a book or two a day, staying up late into the night or even the wee hours of morning. I became very skilled in building pillow fortresses to hide my light behind, so my parents wouldn't see the telltale light under the door.

Nancy Drew gave way to the Babysitter's Club, which in turn was supplanted by some of my Mom's favourite authours (Mary Stewart, Maeve Binchy, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Higgins Clark, Isabelle Holland, etc...). In grade eight I devoured the high school library, starting at the beginning with Jane Austen and finishing off with Oscar Wilde. I discovered poetry, and wrote some truly abominable drivel.

I yearned to explore and experience the worlds of the works I read. But my bookishness had some very unfortunate social side effects. I was shy, fearful, sheltered, and naive. Not good qualities for the first year university student I soon became. My decision to pursue a degree in English was soon shaken by my reaction to the course material my professor's selected. And the format of the classes left me feeling small and insignificant.

In high school I'd been the ideal student. Studious and eager to learn. I picked things up quickly and received constant praise from my teachers. They would smile indulgently when they passed me in the halls, and share my essays with each other in the student lounge. One teacher handed a paper back laughing once, saying he'd had to have his wife help him with the big words. With so few social accomplishments to reflect on, I gloried in my academic ones.

I expected university to be the same only more so. Finding myself in classes of between one and three hundred students, never so much as meeting my professors, I felt lost and adrift. And I no longer earned a string of straight A's with no effort. It was hard work, and my long enjoyed feelings of intellectual superiority quickly dissipated.

And I was being called upon to analyze books and poems that I found to be filthy and lewd. I read of rape and incest, torture and murder. The words swam in front of my eyes as tales of brutality and immorality tore my innocence and naïveté away from me.

Yes, yes, such a sad story...but what does it amount to?

Years have passed, and I'm finally recovering from the shock of it all. I've accepted that despite my knowledge of a variety of big words, my intellect is only slightly above average (136 IQ). I acknowledge that the world is indeed full of immorality and filth, but that it's also full of beauty, and that I chose what I let into my life.

The yearn to learn is still very much a part of me. Fear of failure has held me back from actively educating myself and pushing forward with my dream of being a published author someday. Words are my thing. They're what I wanna do.


the MomBabe said...

Ugh, I hate when you're reading and it's just page after page of horrible stuff. I know that bad things happen, but I choose to live in my little bubble of happiness.

Nichole said...

I can relate with nearly all of this. I probably had slightly better self esteem, but it's the side effect of being an "oldest" I think.

I do the "I'm the best" talk to myself, then back down and cower, suddenly stricken with fear of "what if no one likes me or thinks I'm good?"

And so. This characterizes my writing now. And my pursuits. I still don't have enough confidence, though I'd say I'm a pretty confident person.

Can't some real-life writer out there just come by, pat us on the head, stroke our backs and say "you're totally normal - this happens to all of us"?

Sorry for the mini-diatribe. This is hitting close to home today. I decided last night, after reading a little Natalie Goldberg ("Writing Down the Bones") that I want to go to school at Antioch and I want to teach writing when I'm done. I think I have to write first, then teach, yes?

heather said...

I am catching up on Ms.Adventures this morning during Curious George. For some reason my feed thingy is behind so I didn't know there were all these wonderful new posts.
I appreciate this post very much, that's what I'm trying to say. Down to the dancing in the kitchen and suddenly being still and deep in thought about lyrics that most people wouldn't give even one thought to ruminating over. I love it.
I think about how I've realized I love words, reading and writing and learning so much and wonder what will happen simply because I'm finally answering the call of my heart.
geez this is long.
not that big, amazing things need to happen, like fame. I don't mean that. But just a freedom and joy in doing what I love. THAT is bound to have an effect on other people, especially those I live with here in my little world.
Oh. And I loved the Babysitter's Club too. I pretended I was in the club on a regular basis. Until my mom considered me old enough for Sweet Valley High! :)