This will not, contrary to what the title so misleadingly suggests, be a blog about driving. Nope, sorry, no cars will be mentioned beyond this sentence. Besides which, it’s been so long since I’ve driven a stick-shift, I’m not even sure I could shift gears if I needed to. Nope, I’m talking about the internal, metaphorical shifting of gears and changing of lanes that we go through as human beings on the road of our lives- sometimes we do this intentionally, sometimes we do it without even noticing (Like when you pull into your driveway and have absolutely no recollection of the drive home whatsoever.), and sometimes we do it because we have no choice- some other “driver” runs you off the road, or you find yourself unable to get around one road block or another. Sometimes you just can’t stand the stretch of highway you are on anymore. So you put on your blinker (although what this would be, metaphorically, I have no idea) and you get the hell out of there.
What a liberating concept, huh? That at any time in our lives, when the way things are leave a little (or a lot) to be desired…we can do something else. This applies to pretty much any situation, at any point in time, period. Even as I write these words, I feel the part of me that has been molded by the polite and acceptable rules of society going into a panic. If it had more control over me (and it sometimes does) it would be destroying all evidence of this entire thought process- that’s how nervous the notion of change makes this predictable, safe, facet of my personality. But that doesn’t make my statement any less true. I know that I can change nearly any aspect of my life, anytime I want to, to any degree I want to, just BECAUSE I want to.
I used to know this well, and take full advantage of it, often, when I was younger. Then I got a little more grown up and realized that I wanted my life to look more like other people’s lives. I wanted a better job, a credit card so that I could rent a car if I needed to, cable TV, and more money. So I did what most people do when they wait what they feel is “too long” to settle down- I panicked, and went after the life I thought I could fit myself into rather than the life that fit me. I chose stability, safety, financial security and the chance to finally make my mother happy over the much riskier, less certain life of pursuing my dreams. Most people would see nothing at all wrong with that- as a matter of fact, it’s probably the norm for about eighty percent of the employed population. We put our dreams in the backseat, the closet, or tucked in a drawer somewhere, and we tend to our families, our bank accounts, our dental appointments, and…everything else, first. We intend to get back to those dreams, once things mellow out, or the kids get a little older, or just as soon as this happens or that stops happening. We may realize, one day, that we have been better at keeping our promises to everyone else then we have to ourselves. Some people dismiss their most cherished hopes for themselves as “kid stuff”, and toss them out.
I don’t want this to be my story. I don’t want to give up, or finally have the right set of circumstances to start being who I really am…only to find that it would have been easier, better, more enjoyable, if only I had started way back when.
I don’t really know how to do it. I mean, I know that what I want to do is write, I know that I am a writer, whether I am known to millions of people, or only to myself- I was a writer the first time I scribbled out a horrible poem at the age of seven or eight. I have been enchanted by words, by the amazing, magical way their arrangement on a page could make the most incredible adventure begin, or bring the hidden, inner life of someone to beautiful light, nearly all of my life. But I am very uncertain about how to navigate the path from here to the best-sellers list. No matter how many books and articles I read on the subject of queries and revision, on genre and agents and submission guidelines, platforms and outlines, I still feel unprepared to take the next step. I am starting to suspect that I will continue to feel this way no matter what.
SO! I’ve decided to just go ahead anyway. I am thirty eight years old, and I don’t want to wait any longer to “feel ready”. Yes, I am not brimming with the confidence of someone either totally prepared or completely, blissfully, ignorant, but I doubt I am the only one who has ever felt this way. I am just not willing to let my fear stop me anymore. I am making some very big changes, and all of them are geared towards helping me get to where I want to be. Because I don’t want to live a pretty okay life anymore, and the strain it is causing me, this weird, pervasive unhappiness that makes me feel like such an ass (oh, poor you, with your incredible job, boo-hoo) is heading me straight for consequences I definitely don’t want.
I have mapped out a plan. Part of that plan is to commit to a minimum of two, but a goal of three, blogs per week. I would also like to get back to my original purpose, at least in part, which was to write about navigating the treacherous waters of being a (gulp!) middle aged woman and learning how young middle age really is. Because it really, really, is. So expect to be hearing a lot more from me. And at least a little more of that particular subject, although I reserve the right to also go off on tangents in totally unrelated subjects.
Change can be alarming, and make you lose your sense of equilibrium. Change can be unwanted and painful, hard to get through. But change can also be an absolute necessity, something you might be willing to give up everything- your job, your money, every comfort in your life- for. Sometimes it is not enough to wait for change to come close enough to you to grab. Sometimes you get up off your ass and start creating change right in the middle of your own kitchen. Which is what I have decided to do. It doesn’t mean I’m not scared half to death of what might happen…I’m just more afraid of what can NEVER happen if I don’t try.