A month ago, my husband messaged me a Jim Carrey video that made me cry.
Not laugh, but cry.
I am getting ahead of myself.
I have mentioned here before that my husband is a good golfer.
He was on the varsity team his freshman year, lived and breathed golf from the age of 10, and truly just loved the sport.
He should have played in college but he didn’t.
He is vague about it and makes comments about being afraid and immature but here is the one thing that always stands out: regret.
And it hurts my heart a little because I feel like all of those years ago, he didn’t truly invest in himself because he was afraid.
In July of 2015, my husband took a $40,000 a year pay cut.
For many reasons but the biggest one was that he wanted to finally be able to do what he was really good at with a company that he felt held a solid future and didn’t take him away from his family as much as his old job did.
Work-life balance is what he calls it.
He is investing in himself and our family even though it has been very hard financially.
I so often think about him being in the career he is now and thinks that if he had chosen a different path, it might have been so much different for all of us.
Maybe I would have never met him, or maybe I would have.
But that first lack of investment still bothers me.
As of late, I have worked on one of two screenplays I’ve had in my head for a long time now. In the past, I haven’t really had the time to start writing something that wasn’t for this blog or for Chicago Parent, Little Lake County or somewhere I wanted to submit to “get my name out there” or simply to make money.
In between the side jobs and my other writing, I wasn’t making the time to start writing those words in a Word document.
One could say I wasn’t completely investing in myself.
But you would be wrong because that is what this blog has been for the past six years, an investment in myself.
Small deposits I was making into my self-esteem, my well-being, and my inner peace.
I was investing in myself with every paragraph I was writing, every line I would read back and would make me laugh, every comment I would read of yours that made me smile.
It might not pay the bills but it is a massive return on my investment.
I see you on my social media feeds daily.
Some of you like to do extreme forms of exercise or teach classes to others.
Some love to travel and go to new places from time to time.
Some of you love to sell things such as essential oils, makeup, bags, and leggings.
Some of you love to go to food festivals and craft beer tastings.
Some of you empower people with your words by writing them.
Some love to hang out with their family and share their pictures.
Some love to hang out with their friends and drink a beer or ten on a Saturday night.
Everyone has different ways of expressing themselves and for me, that is and will always be writing.
I need that like some of you need all the above.
If there were a Friday night writing club, as nerdy as that sounds, I would be there.
If there was booze involved, most likely you’d be there too.
There are evenings where I can’t wait to get in front of the computer and just write.
I will have random thoughts come to me that make me have to pull my car over, write them on my phone and make me excited to write them out later that day.
I can almost describe it as an addiction.
Only the good kind, the kind you don’t need to hide away in a closet or go to a meeting for in a church basement on a Tuesday night.
Sometimes you see my words, most times you don’t.
Often times, I can’t wait to read them to my editor, also known as my husband.
Many times, I don’t share them with anyone at all and press delete.
This screenplay that I am working on is something that is a little outside of my comfort zone because I don’t know what I will do with it when I am done writing.
I know there are people who do this for a living every day and have programs on their computers that are much more advanced, created precisely for writing screenplays, for authoring books.
I know that I might spend hours and hours of time on my screenplay, put my heart and soul into it and feel it is the best thing I have ever written and it may end up in a pile of thousands of others, never looked at.
I realize that sometimes it is more about who you know than about what you write.
But I don’t care because I am investing in me and no one can take this away from me.
As corny as it sounds, I honestly believe this is the path I am supposed to take.
We are in the midst of training up a teenager who is a year and a half shy of graduating from high school.
She is prompted daily at school to figure out what she wants to do with her life.
Taking classes to get her ready for the future, taking tests that will make her look appealing to colleges and going through this systemic rat race of having to “be the best” and “average isn’t good enough”, and I am not buying into any of it.
I had not one idea what in the hell I wanted to do when I was 16. 17, or even 18.
I lied and said, “I want to be a teacher” to a crowd of my peers on a stage senior year in high school while accepting a marching band award for Loyalty, Pride, and Spirit.
Everyone else had an answer but I did not.
How did all of my peers know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives?
I still had no idea what I wanted to do when I was 24 years old and working full-time as a department store supervisor, going to a local community college part-time.
I told the enrollment secretary that I wanted to major in “business” because I had to give something as a major and I honestly didn’t know what other classes to take at that point.
It was in a required English Composition class, taught by a beautiful soul with a terribly hard to understand Egyptian accent, who awakened my love of writing during a Tuesday/Thursday weeknight class.
With weekly journal entries, I was writing about my life, my family, and my problems.
While others in my class couldn’t wait for the required course to be over, I couldn’t wait for the next assignment.
Or the next. Or the next.
It brought me back to my childhood when I would sit on my bed for hours and write vivid stories about fictional characters.
My mom would say, “you will be a writer someday!” and I believed her.
Even my junior year English teacher told me that she couldn’t wait to read the book I would someday write.
But like many things, those dreams would be dashed by choices, experiences, grades, life.
I was laying in bed with my teenage daughter a few weeks ago and said that I hoped we weren’t giving her too much pressure about her future.
You want them to know that you want a better life for them than you have but what exactly is that?
We have always made sure our kids know that we love and support them no matter what but it is this fine line of but make sure it is the right thing for you.
Whatever the hell that means.
But at the end of the day, this is what I want her to choose:
Do what you love, NOT what you think will pay the bills, NOT what society is telling you to do, do what you WANT to do.
Do you want to become a crime scene investigator?
Do you want to do makeup for a living?
I AM 100% SUPPORTIVE.
A fashion designer?
MAKE IT HAPPEN.
The next female airline pilot?
I WANT FREE AIRFARE.
In a society focused so much on money, power, and levels of success, I want our girls to know that them being happy is what success really is all about.
Invest in yourselves, my sweet and beautiful girls.
“You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here. And the decisions we make in this moment which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality; what we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to ask the Universe for it. I’m saying, I’m the proof that you can ask the Universe for it.
My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that was possible for him and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which, was that you could fail at what you DON’T want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”