I just saw a note in a friend’s blog that our college class’s upcoming 5-year reunion is right around the corner, and how it’s making her reconsider her life. My gut reaction was to say, “That’s not me, I don’t feel that way,” because even though I don’t know what I’m doing with my life in the next two years or what I want out of my career, I don’t feel I’ve wasted this time, and since I had the luxury of getting a degree in something I liked studying rather than something I wanted to make a career out of, I don’t feel I wasted my degree.
But on some levels, that’s a load of crap, because for me, the big anniversary coming up is the high school reunion. In a year or so, it’ll be ten years since I graduated, having already written a novel and shopped it around to publishers. I spent every lunch hour, every free period, up in the computer lab, writing away. I was determined to get published by nineteen, like Mary Shelley and Isaac Asimov, and spend the rest of my life writing. Eleven years after I finished that first novel, more than eight years since I graduated high school, I have only a few short story publications under my belt, and I’m starting to accept that while I love writing, and love working hard at it, I may always be at the amateur level, and I will almost certainly be unable to support myself as a writer until I’m nearly ready for retirement.
A few of my older friends, having finally come to terms with the idea that they’re not going to meet Mr. Right and they’re tired of waiting, have decided to bite the bullet and have kids anyway. And even though this wasn’t how they pictured it, they’re happy. Giving up chasing fame and fortune (or at least validation and a steady income), accepting it’s not going to happen, and just writing for the love of it, feels a little like that. It’s healthier. Possibly even more joyful, in the long run, to love what is than to sour it by chasing after what you can’t have. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting.