I spoke to my daughter the other night, the one who is trying to make it in the music industry. She said after years of hard work and struggle, she has reached the point where she feels entitled to call herself ‘a musician who has a part-time job to make ends meet’ instead of someone who only plays around with music as a hobby.
I think she is very wise. She has reached a point in her young life that it has taken me over three decades. If I could write a letter to my younger self, I think I would say ‘relax, believe in yourself and don’t worry what others think of you.’
My parents were nomads. I attended six schools in locations from Vancouver to Montreal. As an introverted nerd, I did not fit into readily established cliques of kids who had been together since kindergarten. Rather then blend into the background, I drew attention to myself by asking questions in class, and by my complete and total lack of fashion sense in high school having up to then attended schools requiring uniforms. I was totally confused as to what was expected of me and tried to blend chameleon-like with whatever group I was with. As I floated from group to group trying to belong, I suppressed more of who I really was and what I should have been doing all along.
I was in math and sciences but I loved English, especially legally reading books in class. But best of all was working on a creative writing assignment. Unfortunately, I never called myself a writer nor did anyone else. According to others, I was destined to be employed in the math and science field, so writing was just my hobby.
As an adult, I attempted to conform despite my non-conformist true self. I bit my lip and tried to avoid rocking the boat, even though I knew the boat needed to be rocked or better still,capsized.
I wrote dry technical reports in my job. Occasionally I had an opportunity to work on an outside, unofficial creative writing project. But they still didn’t make me a writer.
Unfortunately, over the years, I became very good at sabotaging myself. When I tried to please others, I would stress and worry, afraid of doing something wrong. When I tried to please myself, I felt I was wasting my time by doing something insignificant or not worth the effort. This type of thinking led to mediocre performances in both areas.
Since I was apparently living someone else’s life, I really wasn’t sure of what I was doing and my lack of confidence became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I felt I was missing the mark, the more I missed it, the more I cared about doing things to please others, the more I screwed up. It wasn’t until I left the formal workplace and entered the informal, fly-by-the-seat-of-your- pants world of wife and motherhood that I was actually able to explore who I really was with the full support of my husband and children.
“Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make Thy way straight before my face.” Psalm 5:8
My husband underlined this for me. I realized I’d been asking God to bless my plans rather than joining in with His. My prayer was ‘make my way straight before Your face. I would ask God to bless something I had already decided rather than asking what He wanted me to do. “Do everything with a blessing” is not the same as “bless everything I do.” I realized daily I should ask God to direct my path. I should live every moment prayerfully, to see what He is doing so I can faithfully do my part. So I asked God what He wanted me to do, and He provided me with the opportunities to write…and I did.
Now I call myself a writer who works part-time to make ends meet.
So, let me amend my advice to my younger self; ‘Relax, believe in God, follow His lead and you will discover who you are.’