Here is what I am good at.
Writing. Reading. Watching television. Analyzing characters. Judging things, judging people, having opinions.
I also like doing thing the hard way. Not consciously, of course. I’ve yet to meet a single person who seeks out the most difficult paths to getting what they want and embarking on them, but that seems to be the way I do things. For a person seemingly drawn to difficulty, I am also set in my ways and fearful of leaving them. Interestingly enough, that immovability makes things even harder.
To write has always been my goal, give or take a few moments when I thought I could do something else. Maybe I could be a doctor or a lawyer or run my own business. Maybe I could be an actress. Or a director. Or a private investigator. Or a law enforcement agent (FBI? CIA? DEA? SHIELD?). Maybe I could be Olivia Pope or Cristina Yang or Veronica Mars or someone else entirely. But no. Not only do I not want to do those things, I don’t have the constitution for them. I’m a writer, pure and simple.
But I’m very realistic about my prospects in that arena. I can work my way to something resembling the top, but that takes time. And writing is not the most financially secure of prospects, and I am deeply uncomfortable with financial insecurity. I’m uncomfortable with all insecurity. So in my attempts to be realistic I settled on yet another very competitive and not that secure career path: publishing. And I mean publishing. Not the mid-Missouri, tiny university press publishing, I mean the big city, big office, multiple imprints, New York Times best-selling publishing. I, queen of making things hard on myself, chose a field that’s almost entirely focused on East Coast, specifically New York, and I am afraid to go.
My family is here, I grew up here. I grew up with my grandparents around the corner, my mom a few feet down the hall. When it was time for college I flirted briefly with the notion of attending school in Chicago (I was in love with DePaul University) before I abandoned that idea in favor of the closer and cheaper MU.
Despite my best intentions, my exhaustion with mid-Missouri tedium, I’m a Midwestern girl. I’ve reached some level of comfort and ease here. To leave would mean abandoning that comfort and that ease and replacing it with uncertainty. To be unsure, anxious and afraid is a very uncomfortable sensation. It is debilitating and painful. To be an introvert with at least some social anxiety feels manageable in a smaller city you’ve grown accustomed to but is practically insurmountable in a new city with new people, beginning a new life. Just moving into a new apartment makes me anxious so you can imagine what a new job, new place, new friends and new everything will do.
People move all the time, and New York’s large population proves people are capable of thriving there. Whatever comfort I’ve achieved now, I remember those early days when things were hard, when I knew nothing and was forced to awkwardly navigate uncharted territory, and I hated that feeling. When I started college I had the benefit of a best friend from high school who was going to be experiencing it all with me, which made the learning curve a bit less steep. That won’t be the case if I move to a whole new city, alone and so far away that a speedy drive won’t get me back home when I get overwhelmed.
I read an article this week about feeling behind, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. I’ve gotten very good at resenting my own successes for not being on par with those of others. My horoscope always says that I’m the ambitious kind but it never mentions anything about my nervous tendencies or how easily paralyzed I am by the unknown. Though this piece is very comforting when it comes to reminding me that I’m only 23 (which means I’ll be 25 in less than two years, 30 in less than ten, and you know eventually dead) and by no means required to have figured everything out, I really am behind.
I graduated a semester late more out of fear than any real need, acquiring a minor that I liked but was never that passionate about it. I’ve always been behind, doing things just a little bit later than was really necessary, holding back because I think I’m not ready. The only reason I started college when I did is because its a bit harder to prolong high school, but i do procrastinate. And apparently I do for no reason. When I reach a certain milestone that I’ve put off, I wonder why I didn’t just do it sooner. So I’m trying not to do this anymore. I don’t have much choice having reached peak apathy regarding my life here. I can no longer stomach the job I’ve held through college, which gets worse everyday (but that’s a different post). I could find another job easily, but not one that would be anymore satisfying. At least not here. Since my graduation in December I’ve been unenthusiastically applying to jobs that only barely scrape the surface of what I really want simply because they’re nearby. It is a strange and scary relief to be finally fed up with it.
I read another article this week (I’ve been reading a lot) called “When To Make Massive and Ballsy Life Changes for Your Career“. It popped up in my inbox, in a newsletter I recently subscribed to, and I’m taking this little bit of serendipity as a sign that it’s time to get over myself, and my fears, and do that something that scares me. Like moving. I don’t know when it’ll happen. Maybe it’ll happen in months or in a year, but I’m going to go to New York City. I have a list of jobs that are perfect for me there, and I’m working on my cover letters and resumes with more enthusiasm than I have thus far. I’ll apply until I get one of them (I’m bound to get something or so I’m telling myself). And when I have it, I will leave, and for once I will be doing something on time that is huge and scary and important. I just have to keep reminding myself that, while everything I have is here, in a not-so-bad city in a not-so-bad state, everything I want is somewhere else, and I have to go there.