You know how when you’re a kid and you’re on the cusp of being able to make your own decisions, and just when you thought you were able to make those decisions without regard for anyone else’s opinion, they slap this one on you: “you need to have a goal.”
What? A goal? I’m only <insert age here> how the heck am I supposed to know what I want to do further than ten minutes from now? The only reason I wait until the weekend or even the next day is because there’s other stuff (like getting a ride) in the way of going out and being with my friends!
So there’s pretty much two ways to go: you say “I don’t give a damn about your conformist goals” and pretty much go nowhere unless you’re a: insanely lucky, or b: change your way of thinking to number two: “I suppose I should have goals, it’s the right thing to do…” I am in this latter category.
I spent a lot of my life making the decisions I made out of guilt. I still do it, in fact. Has this practice lead me astray? Maybe once or twice, but on the whole, not really. Do I wish I didn’t do it? HELL YES. Can you imagine what it feels like to feel guilty all the time about one thing or another? I’m starting to think that Catholic Guilt is genetic, because while my mother never made us go to church, she was subjected to it as a child, so maybe that’s where I get it from… Or maybe it happens with baptism! Mum said she baptised me to make sure “I had my bases covered.” Whatever that means. I bet that holy water has something in it that just makes you feel guilty about everything for the rest of your life…
But back to the issue at hand: goals. Completing goals that you set because someone else (inadvertently or purposefully) guilted you into working towards feels good for about 3 seconds, and then you’re left sitting there with the most pathetic look on your face and you’re thinking: “Why did I even do this, really? I don’t even care about it that much. In fact, the only reason I care about it at all is because such-and-such cares about it…”
Is that really a fulfilling way to live? Because our friends, mentors, parents, whomever, put these ideas of what is important into our heads, and then we either disappoint them or disappoint ourselves? That sucks!
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the advise and coaxing from the people in my life, from my mother especially, because if I didn’t listen to those people, I guarantee I’d still be living with my parents. But… Is that really the only way to accomplish anything? By completing a string of achievements that you couldn’t care less about, only to get to the place you thought you wanted to be, and it’s a coin toss whether you like it or not? That’s why I’m terrified of completing this Master’s program; what if I finish and get hired and start working and two months later all I can think is “get me the hell out of here!”? Then what? Have I just wasted my money, Dave’s money, my time, my professors’ time, just to find out that it’s not for me? HOW DO YOU PEOPLE WITH DEGREES CHOOSE MAJORS???
Can you tell I suck at making my own decisions? I cannot stand making decisions (well, mostly, sometimes it’s pretty easy, but that’s rare) because I’m afraid of being wrong. Even decisions that have no right or wrong answer, I sweat over them trying to figure out the best one. It’s ridiculous and exhausting.
The one goal that I’ve always had that never came from anyone else was to write a book and get it published. That’s it. No unrealistic expectations like “must be a bestseller,” spawn a movie or TV series,” or “land in Oprah’s Book Club.” I don’t care if it’s successful or not, I just want to make sure I like it, and that it gets on a shelf somewhere. As long as I can say to myself “I am a published author,” I’m good. Just thinking about it makes me feel like the sun is shining inside my heart.
Oh yeah. One more thing. I wanted to be published before I’m 30.
Crap! A deadline! It seemed so easy when I put the deadline down at 13 years old… but now I’m twice that, I’m in school, and you know what, I actually have time to do it, so what better time than now? I’ve got a basic outline of what I want to write, and I’m working on filling it in with great writing, which is actually pretty funny to me because I used to HATE the traditional writing process. I used to just go. I never had a plan, I would just write furiously until I couldn’t write anymore, and then I’d never finish. Any big writing assignment I did usually ended in a crappy ending where I’d lost interest, or, if it wasn’t for an assignment, I would just never finish for some reason. I would get totally into writing about something, and then as suddenly as the urge to write came, it would be gone. I don’t want that to get in the way of my dream. I know it’s probably going to take me forever to write, because if I don’t feel like writing, and I try to write, it sucks. So I’ll have to wait for the urge, or find some kind of trigger for it (caffeine?) in order to get it done. Then there’s the wonderful fun of finding an editor, publisher, publicist, people to actually read it… I know I said I didn’t care if it was a bestseller, and I don’t, but I want at least a few people to read it, come on!
Who knows, maybe someday it will be a bestseller, but I think if that happened, my head would explode, that’s just too much to even imagine…