Have you ever reached a point in your life when you think to yourself, gee, I should have taken a different path? You think, I shouldn’t be in this relationship/this career/this town, etc., etc.? I have absolutely reached that point. Multiple times. I feel like my life is a series of stops and turns and starting again. In my twenties I wanted to be a writer more than anything in the world. I had a friend who was accepted to Stanford’s creative writing program and I thought how wonderful that would be and I wished I could do the same. But for some reason I thought that kind of dream was for other kinds of people. I was a regular kind of person. I was the kind of person who would need “something to fall back on”. I let myself be convinced by those around me that real careers were in medicine or law or business. So I went to law school.
One semester in and I knew it wasn’t for me. I didn’t fit in there. I was creative and passionate and didn’t give a fig about what a good legal memo looked like. And I felt out of my depth. That’s usually a good clue that you’re on the wrong track – when you feel awkward and off-kilter and just can’t find your balance. Also, if it makes you physically ill. That’s an excellent indicator. And that’s precisely how I felt for about ten years of my life, all through law school and the bar exam and practicing as a commercial litigator. I was emotionally and physically off-balance. But I had been taught that nothing worth having would come easily, and that if I was doing something that was a struggle every day, but was really highly respected, that’s how I would know it was a worthwhile endeavor. Crazy, right?
When I was in my late twenties, I reached the end of my rope. I was tired of praying each morning for God to get me through the day. I was tired of being happy one day a week Saturday evening and Sunday morning and then descending into depression on Sunday afternoon at the prospect of going back to work as a lawyer on Monday. I was tired of thinking for so long that if I didn’t love the practice of law, the wrangling, the antagonism, the living at a high level of stress and hostility, that there was something wrong with me. Perhaps there wasn’t anything wrong with me. Perhaps there wasn’t anything wrong with the practice of law. Just maybe we weren’t meant for each other. And that was okay. I had an epiphany. I didn’t need to live like that anymore! This was a true A-HA moment. I could choose something different! And because my dream since I was about five-years-old was to be a writer … I became a real estate broker! Baby steps, people.
I was still living in the reality that said I needed “something to fall back on.” It would take a few more years to get that when God or whomever or whatever you believe in puts a passion in your heart, it’s there for you to follow. It’s like a road sign saying, this is it! This is what you’re here for! It may not make you billions of dollars, and it may never feel safe, but you will feel your soul filled with something like peace, with something like joy, and that will always point you to your purpose.
It wasn’t until my husband’s job was transferred to London and we moved overseas that things really shifted. I could no longer practice as a lawyer or a real estate broker. I had big chunks of time that I could, without guilt, fill with writing. And so I did. I started this blog as a travel journal and I started writing my first novel. I felt such peace starting each day with writing. I felt such purpose and I felt my spirit being fed. I wrote with joy and passion each day, just to put words on paper, just to see my own inner voice on the screen or paper in front of me. Sometimes it didn’t even matter what I was writing; it could be a small poem or ten words on a scrap of paper just because I liked the way they sounded together. Even that was enough. I promised myself then that I would never go back to that other way of living, that denial of who I am on the inside. And I never did.
I had two children, though, and when they were quite little I took time just to focus on being their Mommy. They needed me to be present each moment with them. I needed me to be present with them. A friend once told me that in motherhood, “the days pass slowly, but the years pass quickly.” She’s right. And I’ve tried to remember that even on the difficult days. When my daughter says she NEEDS me to play a game with her, I try to drop whatever I’m doing and just play. Because she won’t always be two or three or four. When my son REALLY, REALLY, REALLY needs me to see his latest Lego creation, I run into his room with just as much excitement as he has, because I know that not too far into the future he may not want me running into his room for much of anything.
Lately, though, I’ve found myself with a bit more time to myself. My children are ever so slightly older and ever so slightly more independent. There are quiet places in the house for my own thoughts, and still moments when I can put words to paper again and feel my spirit fill with a different kind of love than the one I have for my babies. I welcome this new phase and I’m welcoming back the part of myself that has been waiting so patiently for a different kind of birth. And now I finally feel as if I’ve come full circle. I feel the five-year-old in me, the excitement of story-telling, and the joy of doing what I’m meant to do. I feel a freedom I didn’t have in my twenties or even my thirties. I can write without fear and without worry. I just write. And that’s enough.
2 thoughts on “The Other Path”
I’m so glad you are writing!!!! Reading your novel would be not only a dream come true for you, the writer, but for me, the avid reader. Xoxo
Thanks, Ali! xo