Wide Ocean

It was just supposed to be a side gig, a small class to enhance my writing projects, and boost my confidence. Despite a few published works here and there, my writing wasn’t “going anywhere” anytime soon, and it seemed as good a time as any to learn some adult skills. So, I started a coding class two months ago – as in, website development coding. I’d done a little work on WordPress, diddled around a bit on Squarespace, and I felt familiar enough with the material to take a deeper dive. Plus, I was tired of feeling ignorant and befuddled about technology. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), what I found was a renewed sense of curiosity, and a greater thirst to learn more, more, more.

You’d think I’d feel nothing but ecstatic about this newfound hobby. Instead, I found myself increasingly torn between a faithful companion and a hot new flame. I loved my coding class, it’s all I wanted to do anytime I had a spare moment – exactly how I used to feel about writing – and this scared and confused me more than a little bit. Until this point, I identified so fiercely and singularly as “a writer.” I wrapped myself up in the label, and focused all of my energy and time on shoring up that identity. For so long, writing was my passion, my outlet for everything that troubled or inspired me, the way in which I made sense of the world. Who on earth am I without it?

My dear friend, Megan, wrote a fabulous article about homeostasis, highlighting the incredible amount of human energy that goes into keeping things the same, predictable, and comfortable. For me, writing is comfortable. I thought it would be my end-all, be-all source of life and abundance, but suddenly my passion is shifting to a new plane.

And just like that, it’s time to move on. Perhaps not forever, but for a time. I’m bursting to throw my energy into this new task, dive into coding, and meet head-on whatever comes next. Look, you and I both know I’d always hoped to hit the jackpot with my blog, to “be discovered,” to make my nut as An-Esteemed-And-Generationally-Relevant-Writer. That didn’t exactly happen, so naturally a small part of me wonders: what was it all for? Was the journey purposeless? Am I quitting too soon, before reaching my goal?

No, writing didn’t make me a millionaire. But truthfully, that’s not why I started in the first place. I began it because the feelings and thoughts inside of me needed let out, because motherhood was – and is – hard, and I couldn’t seem to find my footing without sharing the journey. I continued with it because I found comradeship with you – my readers – and with women who felt and thought the same things I did, and who made me feel so much less alone. I’m eternally grateful for that. In sharing my (sometimes quite dark) inner world, I was desperate for someone to say, “Me too,” and I found that through writing. If that’s all that comes of this journey, I’d say it’s a smashing success.

And does “success” always have to mean “money?” Why do our hobbies and passions need to take us somewhere lucrative? Why do I feel the need to make excuses for myself, explaining away my writing practice with sarcastic jokes to cover up the fact that no, this isn’t a “career,” nor is it a materially “successful” endeavor. No, I’m not pumping my blog, posting affiliate links, tracking click-throughs, or actively growing my readership. I’m not being “smart” about my writing, because that was never my intention in the first place (and that is okay, goddammit!)

And now, having successfully written my way through the first three years of motherhood, it’s time to shift my focus elsewhere. Maybe coding will be my Big Thing I’m Meant to Do, or maybe not. Maybe I’ll finally become “an adult” with a “real job,” and when people ask me what I do, I won’t have to break eye contact and shamefully look at the sidewalk, because I can’t bear to admit that I’m not a Big Wig, Hot Shot Writer. I’m just a woman who writes on occasion, when she feels she has something to say.

In college, I majored in business, thinking it would lead me somewhere “successful” (dolla dolla bills, y’all). Every stinkin’ guy in my classes (because my classmates were all, with few exceptions, dudes), wanted to be an entrepreneur. It’s such a buzzword these days. My generation is filled with folks seeking to concoct that big idea, start that groundbreaking business, and become Someone. Going by what I see on social media, it’s easy to think that entrepreneurship – starting a business, building it to success, making money hand over fist – is The One True Way. If that’s what entrepreneurship is, I am a huge fucking failure at it.

But yesterday, I was researching on the Internet for a project, and I discovered something that rocked my world: although the word “entrepreneur” was taken hostage by the business world, it’s actually just someone who takes great risk in undertaking a task. Any task. Not just in business. Take that, business majors! I’m still an entrepreneur, in the true sense of the word, because I’m going to take this risk; I’m going to undertake the task of following my passions, even when they shatter my identity, leaving me confused, and more than a bit lost.

Writing has taught me so many things: to put myself out there, to practice honesty, to share authentically, and remain true to myself amidst strong influences. But writing is something that I do, it is not who I am. Who I am changes moment to moment, and the greatest failure is not allowing that change to happen, because think of where it might take you! The sea is wide, the tide is moving, and the greatest entrepreneurs are those who move with the ebbs and flows, who resist becoming rooted in any one hobby, relationship, or task; who let go of the things that no longer serve them, leaving plenty of runway for the next adventure.

I’ll continue to write and post stories when I’m truly inspired. Writing has always been my outlet, my favorite way of connecting, and I’m almost certain that will stay a part of me forever. But the tide is moving, y’all, and I’m following it out to sea.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Marybeth Carty says:

    You dove into the heart of the conundrum here, Lauren.. and so thoughtfully, beautifully and truthfully…
    go forth and code!! But never stop writing. 💓

    Liked by 1 person

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