A Dream Lost/Searching for Another

I’m a woman adrift.

Aimless.

Without purpose.

It kinda sucks. I don’t know what to do about it.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I studied theatre in college. I was a good student in high school, graduating eighth in my class. I was good at pretty much everything, and all my teachers pushed me to study the field that they taught. Like most teenagers, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I decided to pursue the one class I loved: theatre.

I had all the aspirations of an actress, but honestly none of the passion. I didn’t recognize it at first, but I didn’t really love theatre. I loved the idea of theatre.

It came crashing down around me in my junior year. I remember being in the shower when the realization hit me. I don’t want to do this. I cried harder than I think I’d ever cried in my life, because suddenly I realized that I was in the wrong place. I wasn’t cut out for this. I’m too much of an introvert, and being in theatre forces you to be around people all the time. I’m an early bird and can’t stand late nights, and that’s when the theatre comes to life. I need structure and security, and working in theatre means you never know where your next job is. As the hot water streamed down around me, cleaning my body and the slate, I let go of my dream.

I broke down a few more times in college before I finally admitted, to myself and everyone else, that theatre wasn’t for me. I went to a regional audition for “summer stock” theatres and didn’t get any callbacks. I will never forget the feeling of walking out of that building, away from my peers who were nervous or excited or crying in sadness or joy at seeing (or not seeing) their names on callback sheets. I felt free.

My goals shifted over the next year and a half. I had it all planned out: graduate, find an office job, save for and buy a house, and get a dog. That was the life I wanted. That would make me happy. I am absolutely nothing if not determined, so I did it. And by 24, I had. By 25, I had left the crappy first job that I found and got myself into an office with better pay, better hours, health insurance, and a much better office environment. I had my cute little house, I was a dog mom, I had a good job.

For a few years, it was great. But the feeling of aimlessness crept back into my life. All your life, you have a goal: go to school and get good grades, graduate, get a job, get a house, maybe get married, maybe have kids… and then nothing. No one tells you what to do next. I knew marriage and kids weren’t for me, so my predetermined path had ended. I’m left to figure it all out on my own.

I’m a deep thinker. As cliché as it sounds, I’m struggling with pretty big questions here. What is my purpose in life? What am I contributing to the world? Am I living up to my potential? What is my dream? Is the concept of dreams a bunch of baloney?

I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe I have a purpose, that I can do something big. I want to have a goal, I want to find a dream. A passion. An art. I just don’t know how.

I love to write. I always have. I went back to my childhood self for inspiration and remembered that she wanted to be an author. I’m trying to write fiction and really struggling. I feel like I don’t have the tools or the know-how and I’m just throwing words around like a tornado tosses cars. Ideas don’t come easy to me, and then I second guess them and tell myself they’re stupid. Tell myself I’m stupid for thinking I could write something. I think of all the millions of authors out there and writers waiting to be published and wonder if I’m getting in too deep, setting myself up for failure and heartbreak. Maybe I should just give it all up and try to find contentment.

But I don’t want to be content. Content isn’t enough. Content is just a mask, it’s just hiding the fact that I’m too scared to try.

Does any one have any advice? General advice and words of wisdom, or specific advice for a beginning fiction writer? Any books or articles or blogs you’d recommend?

I think writing fiction might be the dream I’ve been searching for, but man. Dreams are scary. I need some help here.

Overflowing with love,

Cate

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