It’s taken me years to curate enough courage to admit the secret I’ve always known. It was evident in my early obsessions-well-worn books, hardcovers and paperbacks causing a backpack strap indention in my shoulders. It explained why I begged my grandmother for a typewriter and ripped away the crisp holiday paper as if there was a toy underneath. I devoured the book catalog we got in school as if it were a menu, salivating as I thumbed through each delicious page. And while other kids played sports or with their Barbie, I found calm in the click of my new electronic typewriter and the yellowed pages of library books.
I was extremely shy and yet when my high school English teacher argued that my writing was “bad,” I told him with as much courage as my soft voice could muster that he was wrong. I stormed out with a ticket from the admissions office-a free pass to skip his class. I was elated when I discovered the reason for my excused slip-I won a journalism award for my article in our newspaper. My hot flushed face quickly melted into a pool of sweet revenge.
All this and I still waffled between Environmental Science, Business and English in college. I changed majors multiple times. But since I barely passed Accounting and was terrible in Science, I surrendered to the knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to get great grades in anything else but English.
After college, I idled in front of Borders’s career section. It was an ordinary night on the store’s dirty floor when I finally decided to do it. I had always been interested in the psychology behind the characters I read. Plus, I was bored, restless, and fresh out of ideas of what to do next in my hometown of Hawaii. It seemed like the easiest answer in the world to jump on a plane and move my life to California. I had a purpose now. I would get a graduate degree in counseling psychology.
Three years later with my shiny new degree, I was back where I started more in debt, and confused as ever. That’s when I met the woman that would change my life.
She was a friend of a friend I met at a party. There was nothing extraordinary about her or our meeting except that she told me she was a writer. Writer, I thought my heart beating quickly. This time, I couldn’t ignore how I was feeling. It stirred a forgotten desire, which started a domino effect, which turned my full-time job into a part-time gig. In the light of my dreams, I had nil motivation to continue and I finally quit.
It was difficult, but I finally relinquished my need for stability so that I could pursue my dreams. This year marks my 7th year as a freelance writer. I’ve been tempted to give up and get back to mind-numbing corporate work for the stability, the pay, and the ease that comes from a traditional career. But I keep surprising myself in my efforts to stay.
Being a writer is the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. As I sit down in what seems to be an extremely safe and benign seat, I’m battling my inner critic. I’m stuffing down deep fears that I’m still not good enough. I’m always terrified as I put my fingers to the keyboard. But whether I failed infamously yesterday or mess up catastrophically today, experience has taught me, with certainty saved for nothing else in my life that I will be back here at my computer again tomorrow.
*I will be starting a writer’s group in my area of Mililani and will be offering personal consultation and workshops in 2015.
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