Allow me to tell you a brief fairy tale.
Once upon a time there a was a girl named Pam who went to high school and hated it and wanted to burn the place to the ground every single day but she did not for she was a good little girl with pigtails and pink Converse sneakers and arson was bad. So she muddled through and finally in her last year at Hellhole High, she met an incredible being. A being who made waking up at 5:45am less torturous. A being tiny and adorable in appearance but fearsome and impressive in persona. And her name was Spear.
Spear was an epic creature. She assigned grade-killing panel discussions that once ignited terror in her students’ hearts but that soon were a pleasure because they helped one learn to truly appreciate an author’s craft. She preached on the importance of grammar as if it were life and death because to her, it was. She used her fiery red pen to mutilate essay after essay so the children were downhearted and despairing, but when she did not turn a work into Vietnam one knew without a doubt that it was good.
And so Pam learned how to read with fervor and write with passion. And it made life better. And she was almost happy despite the deplorable school in which this tale takes place. And Spear encouraged this girl to pursue a career in writing because Pam had a gift and could not be frivolous with it. And Spear used her great and awesome powers to award Pam the English Award so that she would never forget her destiny as a writer.
And so Pam went away to a university in a magical land called East Lansing and changed her name to Pamela, and she dreamed of a future as an author or essayist or even an editor. And she worked hard and wrote harder and whenever she doubted her talents she would go back and read her past works and remember that indeed she was good and pressed on. And Pamela graduated from that school and became an incredible writer who made much money and won many awards and lived happily ever after.
All of that story is true, except for the happy ending.
I went to college and majored in English to be a writer or editor. That was ALWAYS the plan. People would ask me what I planned to do with a “useless English degree” and I would look them defiantly in the eyes and say, “Write and edit. Duh.” But the post-grad despair sunk-in so fast after I left school, and I was weak and tired and had worked so hard for three and a half years and had not prepared for disappointment. And so I gave up. I stopped applying for the jobs I really wanted. I started applying for gigs I knew I could land but that I didn’t really want and I blocked out the little voice of Spear in the back of my head shouting “But you’re a writer! What do you think you are doing?!” and I let the fire I always had fizzle out. I told myself no one would ever hire me and I started talking, almost immediately, of going back to school. And then school became culinary school because I was so sad I couldn’t allow myself to think for one moment that I could still someday do for a living what I had always wanted.
That complete 360 happened over the course of 3 weeks.
I just…stopped wanting what I wanted and decided to start trying to want something else. And in a very short time I made cooking my new dream. And I convinced myself somehow that that was what I always wanted. There was a point when I literally forgot about my goals. I blocked them out so completely that I couldn’t even tell you why I majored in English in the first place. That was really like a fairy tale: I took a bite of the proverbial poison apple of real-life and fell into a deep sleep of denial and apathy.
A little over a month ago I woke up from that enchanted slumber, rubbed my crusty eyes and said, “What the fuck have I been doing for a year?” I remembered wanting to write and edit. I remembered believing that I could be paid to do just that. I remembered goals and a love of apostrophes and ellipses and I remembered that once upon a time I went to college for a reason.
So I’m back on track. No more culinary school. I still love to cook, but I don’t need school to cook well and I certainly have no desire to be a chef. (Seriously, WHAT HAVE I BEEN THINKING????) I’m back to wishing and hoping and praying and aiming for a job where I put words together in a pleasing and sensible way or help others put words together in a more pleasing and more sensible way than they are capable of doing alone. Back to applying for jobs that I may not get, but at least they are ones I actually want. Back to feeling like Pamela.
If I do a 360 ever again, please, someone, give me a real poison apple.