When I grow up, I want to be…

I’m so jealous of my husband. Alex actually knows what he wants to be when he grows up. He’s worked for a local software company for over 15 years, but in his heart, he wants to focus on his woodworking and build custom furniture. He’s thinking ahead, trying to plan it out so that it will actually be feasible in the future. But me? It depends on the day, and to be honest, I don’t know what my future will hold, or even what I want it to hold.

I quit my full-time job about two years ago to be a stay-at-home mom. I’d been in retail management for six years and I was beyond burnt out. Add in some family crises, and the job became even less important. We revised our budget, cut back a lot of expenses, and let loose of a lot of stress. It was wonderful–it’s been wonderful–in so many ways. I am beyond grateful that my husband has been willing to let me take this time to focus on family. I’m grateful that my kids have accepted the sacrifices I ask them to make so we can live within our means.

For the first few months, I worked on a book. I’d started a memoir about my retail adventures while I was still working, and I was inspired to finish it while the memories were still fresh. Once (I thought) it was done, my time opened up in front of me. Most people would see it as a huge blessing, and part of me did. But part of me saw it as huge pressure too. Alex and I had talked about my writing, and how this was the best opportunity for me to focus on it. And it was. It is. So why didn’t I revise my book, edit and polish it, and start querying agents?

Fear. Plain and simple.

Rejection is part of writing, every writer knows that. I try to brace myself for it, but it always knocks me down a little. And at that time, I think I knew I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to push through that process.

Now it’s two years later, and I’ve worked on the book a lot more. I’m venturing into the world of writers and agents in social media, and maybe it’s time to take that leap. I could finish this book, maybe find an agent and get it published, or self-publish. I’ve been writing for years, so maybe I could pull out the two completed manuscripts I’ve got in my closet and see if they’re worth revising. I could be a writer when I grow up.

But. Wait. In those two years, I’ve also started doing some freelance proofreading, and I love it. I was a copy editor in both high school and college, and English has always been my strong suit. I read widely and voraciously, and correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation is second nature to me. I love taking another writer’s work and polishing it so it shines. I’ve worked on four books so far and would love to do more. There are a lot of freelance websites out there, and if I put forth the effort to bid on jobs, I could probably make a bit of money from it. And when the kids are a bit older and I don’t need to be home so much, I could find a permanent proofreading position.

Hold on, though. I have a passion for yarn, for crochet and knitting. I have visions of a sunny, friendly yarn store where I could spend my days helping people with their own crafting. Alex and I have talked about a joint venture, a storefront where we have both yarn and furniture displayed for sale. We even have a potential name and we’ve scouted out buildings that would work well.

Picture an end table with a lacy runner decorating it, or a coffee table holding bowls of yarn and vases of handmade wood knitting needles. Picture a mannequin wearing a scarf decorated with a wood scarf pin. It’s a relaxing vision, a happy vision. It would allow Alex and I to spend time together, sharing our love for making beautiful pieces. It would keep me from having to answer to a boss, like I would with a “real” job. The kids could work there too, after school and summers. Maybe the dog would be mellow enough to come to work with me sometimes.

I think of doing this and smile. It would be a hard choice, though, with unreliable income, less time off, not much freedom to be spontaneous. I’d have to learn how to run a business, which isn’t why I would do it. I’d do it to be with yarn and other yarn-lovers, to create a space that’s lacking in my neighborhood.

So what do I do? How do I decide what to focus on? I know I can have all these things in my life to some extent, but I feel like I’m supposed to have a goal. What should I be working toward? How do I figure out which one is my true passion?

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