I had a birthday this week and I've found that my birthdays send me face first flying into a time of reflection. I reflect, I ponder, I hope and I wonder.
The past year has been filled with newness and change; the change hasn't been in my circumstances - I still live in the same apartment, still work at the same job, still struggle along on a tight budget. No, the changes that I'm talking about are different than those realities. This past year I took a leap of faith in myself and decided to say aloud, to people close to me and to acquaintances alike, that I write. I am a writer.
This kind of declaration can be exhilarating. It can also be scary as hell. Once you say anything aloud, it makes it more real, doesn't it? The idea bursts out of your cranium and becomes a call to action. Now you've said it, you need to do something about it.
When I was in grade 9, our English class read the play "the effect of the gamma rays on the man in the moon marigolds". As was usually the case, because my voice was, shall we say, more pronounced than the other kids, I had to read the part of the mother. Perhaps it was because of what was going on in my life at that time, perhaps it was because it was so well written, perhaps it was because I was in love with the words, I read the part very well; I read it so well, the teacher took me aside and told me I should try out for the local theatre group. Yeah right. I may have faked bravado very well back then but I was painfully shy. Painfully. So I said thank you very much and never read anything in a play again.
But tucked away in my heart, what I had 'heard' the teacher say to me was that I could be an actress! How wonderful a thought! The only way that I could keep thinking that thought was if I never tested the possibility. If I had tried and failed, another dream in my teenage life would have been shattered. So I never said it aloud. I kept it sealed away in my heart as a secret talisman, as an affirmation that great things might be possible in the future.
As an adult, I've learned, in fits and starts, that it is actually empowering to take a chance on yourself. By taking action, you seek to drive the future rather than it driving you. The first time I noticed this was when I quit a job as a bank teller to look for work in Human Resources. Quitting my job back then was insanity. I had no backup plan. But I had been working in jobs since age 17, sometimes two (one summer I worked three) at a time. These jobs that would never be satisfying in terms of the work, only in terms of paying my bills and tuition. So, one day, I stood tall and decided I deserved more, I deserved to be happy. And somehow, I made it happen.
With writing, as soon as I thought "I think I write" I began building my confidence and writing little stories. Then I gradually got the nerve to put the stories on this blog. Everything has grown from that one thought.
What all of this is about is that saying "I write" has opened my world to possibilities and ideas and people I would have never encountered otherwise. I now am connected, in varying degrees, to 50 people who follow this blog and over 250 people who follow me on twitter. There is a small, hardy, dear group of people who are interested in what I have to say. There are writers that I admire so much it makes my head spin whom I can now call my friends. And there are a core group of people on Twitter who make me smile and laugh, who cajole, who lend a shoulder, who share hugs and stories and secrets and joy and who expand my horizons farther than I could have ever imagined.
For one year, I think that is some damn good change.