I attended my 20th high school reunion picnic the other day. The planning for this precipitated a near-breakdown of epic proportions, which only served to emphasize to me exactly how confident I do feel about myself on a regular basis. This sounds arrogant, perhaps, but exemplifies to me how far I’ve come.
Regardless, I found myself reduced to the insecure kid I once was: second-, third-, fourth- and so on- guessing my outfit choices, whether I wanted to attend, tripping down memory lane (not in a good way) and coming close to backing out many times.
I am very happy with my life right now. But then I was looking at it in a new way: what can I brag about? What have I truly accomplished? Let’s evaluate:
1. I love my husband. He’s an amazing partner in everything, a fantastic father, an excellent provider, and my best friend. I couldn’t ask for more. But as far as accomplishments go, it’s not. I just got really, really lucky.
2. My kids are great. They’re bright, well-behaved (usually) and, I hope, happy. But I think I hit the lottery with them, too. OK, I will take some of the credit. So can my husband. But really, they’re just great all on their own.
3. My job: uh…I just quit. I’m primarily a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom for those not in the know), and this is both by choice and out of necessity, but used to be able to say I taught science classes at the Y. But I just resigned. So now…I got nothin’. I’m a SAHM to school-age kids, which means I pretty much do nothing all day. Some may consider this to be an accomplishment. OK, I admit, I’m pretty happy with it. But brag-worthy? Only if I were an obnoxious twit. Which I try really hard not to be. Usually.
4. The writing. Ah, the writing. Yes, I do write. Sometimes. Not lately. And I haven’t published anything. I’m afraid to tell people I’m a writer, because in my mind, the next question is “What have you published?” Uh…I’ve published a fertility treatment handbook and a drug monograph, and newsletters for horse-crazy teens, and am not credited with any of them. I’m listed as an author on a scientific paper from grad school, but fiction? Not yet. So I feel like I can’t call myself a writer.
When I began running, it took me a while before I was comfortable calling myself a runner. Jogger, zombie-death-shuffler, OK. I think when I ran the entire 5K I may have come around.
I asked friends what I should wear, and one suggested “Your four Irongirl medals.” Also obnoxious but damn tempting. Haha.
Eventually I settled on something comfortable to wear that wouldn’t have me yanking, pulling, or sucking it in, and went.
I had a great time. Exchanged gossip with someone I hadn’t seen in 20 years just as if I’d seen her yesterday, hugged a few people, wished I’d attended the event the night before when I may have seen more people. Someone mentioned she was in awe of my triathlete status, and OK, I preened a little. 🙂
Eventually, the subject came up: “What do you do?”
Me: “Oh, I’m a stay-at-home-mom.” Three sets of eyes glance toward my school-age children. “Yeah, the’yre in school, so I don’t really do much. It’s kind of a cushy gig.” I laughed it off so I hoped I didn’t sound too obnoxious.
One woman, a SAHM herself, trying to throw me a bone: “Oh, come on! You work very hard!”
Me: “Not from 9 to 3, I don’t.” Shrug from me. Awkward smiles all around. Then, my mouth opened on its own and out it came: “Actually, I’m a writer. I write during the day when they’re at school.” Then I prepared to hedge, to defend my unpublished status. But instead:
Them: “What do you write? How cool! I can’t wait to read it!” The woman wanted to read my romances, the man wanted to discuss my short SF stories.
Well, I admit it, that was pretty cool.
So does it come down to semantics? I do write, now, in fact I’m writing this second. I’m constantly composing in my head. Every now and then I take notes, and since last November first when I began NaNoWriMo I’ve probably written 80-100,000 words of fiction and, now, 31 posts here. I suppose I can call myself an “author” when I’m published, but for now:
I am a writer.
That wasn’t so hard.