The last birthday party I can clearly remember happened 16 years ago exactly. It was me and two of my best friends having a sleep over. We watched Die Hard, had pizza with hot dogs and potato chips on top (don’t shudder until you try it, worth it!), a small birthday cake with my step-brother feeling left out as the three of us hibernated in my room talking about boys, our dreams, our wishes, and where we saw ourselves in 16 years.
I don’t know about my two friends, but where my future led me was the complete opposite of where I thought it would lead back when I was more idealistic than realistic. I never dreamed of having a husband or two kids, never dreamed that I’d be a Graphic and Web Designer. I did picture owning a dog or two though so there is that.
Do I regret how radically different my life turned out to be? Can’t say I do…for 98% of it. I do have a small sliver of regret that one thing didn’t come to fruition as I had dreamed or planned. In my dreams I was already a successful writer working on my fourth or fifth book, not the struggling one that I am now. Yet, as my 32nd birthday looms closer, I find myself remembering that night of laughter and teasing. About how they both teased that we’d live together off of my millions due to my success since none of us really gave much thought to settling down permanently with a family.
I want, almost desperately, to be successful as a writer. Not because of the fame, or the money (but, honestly, it would be nice in this economy) as neither of those have been much of an interest to me. No, success is being recognized for the hard work and, without trying to sound overly arrogant, talent I’ve had to tap into to get as far as I have. Writing, much as I say in the catch phrase of this blog, is a necessity for me. Without it I’m lost, confused, and grouchy.
I also know that I don’t need to be validated by being published. I know that I have the skills, after 18 years of working on it, it’s hard not to have the skill and clearly I have the tenacity to continue for another 18 years. But… I want it. I want the thrill of accomplishment that comes with being selected for publication, the thrill of excitement at seeing my book, of holding it in my hands. In a way it’s a bit too abstract to hold onto the dream, but not to the point of letting it go. Not as of yet.
Some people tell me that successful writers don’t get published until they are close to their 40s, but to be frank, I don’t want to wait 6 more years. I feel the desire to spiral down to my 8 year old’s tendency to say “But I want it now!” and throw in a little fit while I’m at it. I tell my daughter at times like that “patience is a virtue”, but I wonder to myself, when I’m alone, that I’ve been patient for 18 years, how much longer do I have to be patient?
When the birthdays roll around, while I don’t ask for a lot of hoopla from family or friends, I do fall back to being reflective of the last year that has passed and contemplate the dreams that I had when I was younger. It doesn’t last long, just the first few days before and after my birthday as I try to hatch a plan to make it happen. For the last few years that has been harder than anything due to the status of my life. Being military means that you’re in a constant state of change, but we’re nearing the end of my husband’s enlistment which means that soon we’ll settle into a single place and be allowed to stabilize our life.
While most of my idealism has faded into the background, it is now that I let that small sliver of regret open up my idealistic dreams, hoping to find a way to make the rest of my dream happen just like I want it to.