I am a uni drop out again.
In my search for career certainty in this far from sure world, I began a masters of social work. There’s dysfunction dripping thus demand for social workers is high and I wanted to find a ‘secure’ profession. I wanted a neat answer tied up with a pretty bow to the perennial ‘what do you do?’ question.
But life had a trail of little wake-up calls. Shaken after a colleague downloaded about her abusive boyfriend and hearing yet another stress leave story, found me with a flu contemplating:
What is driving this decision? And for whom am I doing it?
Is it to give my ill father peace of mind that I have a steady job when he leaves this world? I have already walked this people/parent pleasing path and it lead nowhere. I didn’t want to go back. My fear was clouding my decisions. If I really wanted financial security I could choose banking. But that wasn’t going to fulfill me, I knew this from experience.
It takes me few trips around the block for things to become clear. This current vocational plan (there have been many) is yet another time I’ve placed onus on Plan B instead of owning my true desires Plan A. I’ve always written but only as a hobby and if I admit it’s more than that, I may fail. It’s better to play small and keep it as a ‘thing I love to do’. Meanwhile I split myself in two, busy with plan B as the ultimate distraction from what I humbly hope to achieve in my quick burning ember life. It gets exhausting trying to hoodwink your soul though. This conflict is something many artistic creatures face as following your passion in the arts can be a hard road, not helped by society perpetually questioning its relevance and economic prospects.
But is it really a choice?
I lay in bed quietly asking the deeper parts of myself, and the answer was no.
After years of looking for a career box and having different jobs, it was there all the time. When I stood at the photocopier at my graduate job for a multinational, a poem licked my face. When I was a bike courier, a recovering heroin addict with a PhD in mathematics changed my flat tyre or as a support worker, an elderly lady asked me to collude with her by quickly tidying away the decay in her apartment before the resident nurse came to do an in home assessment, connection has been the anchor. My intuition strong, I stood poker faced when asked if she was fit enough to remain living alone. Later her son called with a heartfelt thank you that she had passed away peacefully in her own home soon after.
Where do you learn how to be a writer? Yes you can do university and always get something out of it. But the qualitative research comes from living life. And maybe that’s what I have actually been doing, even when I thought I was ‘failing’ at this career game.
I remember being asked ‘What do you want to be?’ upon graduating from high school for our school magazine. With ‘unthinking’ speed I answered
A constant Kombie cruiser
I have lived up to that. Seeking new places, jobs and people, sometimes in a campervan. Most recently I’ve moved with my young family to a town with rolling hills and moody skies. I am waiting tables and meeting locals. Forever voyeuristic, I chat with customers and ask questions to tap into threads that hold opinions together. Moments that may find another life since I’ve fired Plan B.
I’m naked ready for Plan A, ‘Arse in the chair’ work of dancing ghosts to life with grit under my keyboard. Maybe the lesson here is by getting quiet to hear our heart’s voice and our body knowing, we uncover our A game. A game where we happily split fingernails. And shredding ideas about what society wants from us or even our parents, and what ‘success’ really looks like. I have been hobbled by my ‘backup’ plan. Driven by my fear of ‘failing’ to meet society’s normal buried under rotting floorboards was my fear of not getting approval. But the truth is no one can give me that, only myself. And by choosing a path that I truly love is a fluid expression of self love.