Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 607 - Is This Where I Wanted To Be?

A college classmate of mine celebrated her birthday earlier this week and blogged about her life plan.  She shared with those who were willing to read along about her plans for life when she was eighteen, where she saw herself by this point in her life, and what really happened in the grand scheme of things. 

It made me think.  What happened to my "life plan?"

If I remember right, it went something a little like this:

  • Be a teacher.  I was going to graduate from college and be the best creative writing and journalism teacher in the world.  You know, the kind that they make movies about after they've retired about how they inspired people to love a subject/live life/succeed in the worst of circumstances.  I was going to teach students how to embrace writing and all that it can do for the mind, the soul, and everything else.
  • Publish a book.  I was going to have books published and be a best-selling author of fiction novels.  After all, there was another guy in my high school graduating class that challenged me to a race to the top of the NYT's best sellers list, and I'm too competitive to lose.
  • Get married and live happily ever after.  I was going to be married soon - I didn't have a specific date, but quickly - and we were going to live happily ever after.  The End.

Wah, wah, waaaaah.

The teaching thing didn't work out, as we all know.  I lasted a month in Ashland University's teacher education program, before a combination of bad field experiences, overwhelming feelings, and a lack of genuine dedication to the profession caused me to drop out of the program.  My heart was with my writing, and I followed it knowing that job prospects wouldn't be falling into my lap any time soon.  In reality, though, I couldn't see me forcing myself to go to work everyday in a position that I truly wasn't passionate about.  I just couldn't do it.

Instead, I went through four years of college and earned a degree while learning from a wide variety of people.  Those who I learned the most from were those that I highly respected outside of the teaching realm; they were fantastic writers, mentors, and motivators.  It was something I hadn't thought about when I jotted "creative writing" down as a major on college applications.  But what I did learn has pushed me further than I can imagine, including abandoning those fiction novels for something that I was "born to write," as one of my professors told me. 

At twenty-four, I didn't imagine myself being a college graduate working two jobs just to pay the bills, madly in love with someone I've been dating for almost a decade (okay, maybe I did imagine that,) and teetering on the edge of a decision that could change my life both professionally and casually for the rest of my life.  I didn't imagine having an online presence as a writer, or even making a living by writing for something that has gone from almost nothing to almost everything in the span of my short lifetime. 

So, what about the plan?

Well, I've never been good at keeping long term plans.  I never did write outlines for stories or papers, keep work out plans, and I have an editorial plan for Suite101 that I am almost three weeks behind on.  One thing I do know, though, is that the plans I keep are the ones that unfold naturally, the ones that I usually don't discover until I'm in the midst of them, and the ones that teach me the most in the end.  And while I'm not married, a teacher, or living in my perfect little house living the life that I planned for when I was on the verge of graduating from high school, the eighteen year old Ashley and the twenty-four year old Ashley are two beings that are hard to imagine are the same person.  Ditching "the plan," or more realistically forgetting about it, probably worked out best in the end.

As these next couple of weeks unfold, I guess I'll see where "the plan," as it stands for the next five minutes, takes me next.


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