Recently, I was asked “What do you wish someone had told you when you first began to write?” And honestly, it stumped me in the same way “What is your favorite book?” or “Who is your favorite author?” stumps me – in that I have far too many answers that I can’t possibly narrow it down to one. If I had a chance to sit young-me down and have a conversation about writing, I’d probably overwhelm the poor girl. So instead I sat with the question for a bit, and I finally came back with – I wish I had been allowed to take it seriously earlier.
People are often shocked to find out that I actually started college as a business major (well, people who know me are shocked, at least). It felt like a safe choice – something I knew I could do that I would be able to support myself with. But it wasn’t the thing I wanted to do. I wanted to write. But the chances of making a living on that are fairly slim (at least in my world at the time) – and I had been raised that stability was to be the number one choice in one’s career.
A couple months into my first semester of college, though, I was bored to tears. I changed my major to English, deciding to follow another childhood dream of mine – teaching (yeah, the pay is not the best – but it could hopefully put a roof over my head and keep me close to the thing I truly love – I mean, someone actually wants to pay me to talk about writing all day? Sign me up.).
College was the first time I allowed myself to be serious about my writing, which wasn’t necessarily supported by everyone in my life. This turned out to be an important boundary for me, however. So if given the chance, I would sit down young-me and tell her, “If you want to write, then write. Even if every single person around you doesn’t take it seriously, you can. You don’t need anyone else’s permission.”