Thursday, February 27, 2014

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood: I Took the One Most Traveled

And that has made all the difference. 

The last month or so, I have been in a real rut with the blog. I've had a hard time coming up with ideas for posts, finding the energy and the time to write (and to write something good), etc. etc. Part of the problem, I think, is a result of blogging on the side. My day job is particularly taxing in the spring, which coincidentally leaves less time to invest in doing the other things I enjoy. Don't get me wrong, I like my job. I find teaching rewarding, inspiring, thought-provoking - all those buzz words that exhausted teachers usually spin about. But I am infinitely jealous of those people who create things for a living. I am one of those people who teach other people about what other people have done. One of those people who write about what other people have written. This, if I am being truly honest, I am beginning to find somewhat uninspiring. I am envious of those who have been brave enough to devote their entire life to their craft.

I sometimes wonder, if I had only been brave enough to take the proverbial less-trodden path, how might my life be different? Such wondering has begun to take on a sharper edge over the last year, since I will most likely find myself at a professional crossroads in the near future when my current unextendable contingent contract is up. Do I want to return to the wasteland of adjuncting, where I make very little money, with no healthcare for myself or my family, in order to continue doing the thing I've been doing for the last ten years or so? I will apply for other full-time positions, but who knows whether there will be any open in the area, how many, how tough the competition will be at that point in time, etc.

I also wonder how my life might be different if I had been braver in general. Several times I have been at the edge of very good things, only to turn back, for one reason or another. If I could go back and talk to the younger me, I would tell her a few things. Here they are:

Even when you think you are completely out of your league, you aren't. You just have to learn how to swim faster. Keep your head above water for a while, and you'll figure it out.

Have faith in yourself, in your intelligence. There will always be people who are smarter than you, but you're pretty damn smart yourself. Give yourself credit.

Being just like everyone else is not admirable. It's boring. Going back home and working in a hole-in-the-wall bar may be fun in the here and now, but it will get old and it will get old very fast. Travel, get an internship, move.

Don't be afraid to succeed because you are afraid of failing. Many times, you will want to say "Why bother? I won't get it anyway." If you don't bother, you most definitely won't get it. If you do bother, you just might.

Don't quit. Don't quit because a few mean-spirited people are making your life a living hell. Don't quit because you are inside your own head and you can't figure out how to throw a ball anymore after you got hurt and you're embarrassed. Don't quit because you don't know what the next step should be. Find out, and then take it. Most especially, don't quit when you most want to. That choice to stick it out might have made all the difference.

As Robert Frost once wrote in a poem that has resonated with so many people, generation after generation, "way leads on to way." Making one faint-hearted choice tends to lead to a series of faint-hearted choices. After you take the easy way out once, taking the easy way out becomes, well, easier. Way leads on to way. God bless those people who say that if given the chance to go back and change something that happened in their past, they wouldn't change a thing. I would. I would change a lot.

On a side note, I think the 36-year-old me could still follow some of this advice. A/J

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