As we approach Mother’s Day this weekend, many college students are also graduating from school, getting ready to venture out into a whole new world of adulthood.
Watching them, I am reminded of my own journey . . .
Let’s rewind time to five years ago . . .
It’s Saturday, December 14, 2013. Commencement Day. I’ve just graduated from college with a BA in English and a concentration in Creative Writing and Diverse Literature. I’m surrounded by family and friends, all asking me how I plan to conquer the world.
And despite some saying that I need to marry a rich husband if I ever want to pursue my dreams of becoming a published author . . .
that I have a one in a million chance of ever getting published . . .
or that I should find a day job; writers these days don’t get paid—I can’t make a living being a writer . . .
I tell them what an accomplished writer once told me three and a half years earlier at my Freshman orientation:
You’re already broke. So major in your passion.
Since I was three years old, I’ve put pencil to paper. I’ve written stories, poems, song lyrics, skits, talk shows for my stuffed animals! And now, after following the advice of someone else who majored in his passion, diploma in hand, I maintained my dream that I wanted to become a published author.
Shortly after graduating, I started my own blog, Lovely Curses, sharing old poems and stories I’d written in college, along with some newer ones, and built up quite the following. I began to submit to literary magazines, and by 2015, I had 8 short stories and poems circulating either in print or online.
But I had a problem. Despite following my passion. I was still broke. Every time I announced a new publication, the question always followed: Are you getting paid?
In recognition? Yes. Monetarily? No.
Slowly the doubt started to rise. What’s the point in doing all of this if I’m not making any money? I had moved back in with the folks. I was working a menial job in fast food while fishing for my passion, and although some tugged on the line and nibbled at the bait, the final decision was always the same: You just don’t have enough experience.
I started to wonder if I had done enough in school. Should I have applied for an internship? I did have an on campus job in student media, but should I have pursued the divisions that would’ve guaranteed me a job—marketing, the newspaper—instead of the more artsy literary magazine?
But that was my passion.
Eventually I’d found a job in Corporate America, thanks to parental connections. It got me out of fast food, thankfully, but it wasn’t fulltime, and it wasn’t my dream.
It was only supposed to last until I found my dream . . . but I was there well over three years.
Stuck in a job I hated, with little to no mobility within the company, working with people who, most days, I couldn’t stand. A job that, day after day, mocked my intelligence with meaningless “busy work” tasks that any teenager could do had it not involved keeping certain things confidential.
I wanted out. I considered going back to minimum wage, going back to school. I looked for ways to make side money—monetizing my blog, creating products to sell—none came to fruition, because the truth is I’ve never been good at selling anything. I can’t even sell an $8 barbeque plate to church folk for a Labor Day cookout.
I remained tight-lipped whenever someone told me I wasn’t pounding the pavement hard enough, that I was just settling, that maybe I should apply for this job just to have a “job.”
When the end of 2017 arrived, I looked back on my life since graduation, and the depression overwhelmed me. I felt as if I was frozen in time. I had accomplished nothing since school (I’d slacked off in the job search after getting turned down so many times; I’d stopped submitting to literary magazines; I took frequent blogging hiatuses). I looked at kids my age, older, and younger, and feared that they were miles ahead of me, fearlessly conquering the world while I remained trapped inside a box.
Maybe I have settled, I thought. Maybe I have given up.
I needed to revisit my passion—writing, editing, publishing, creating for the masses.
Don’t settle for something that’s just going to make me money, I reminded myself. I’m already broke, so pursue my passion, do what I love.
I was more aggressive in my job search. I bulked up my resume with things I’d done (though self-doubt had made me forget because I had gotten paid very little or not at all) over the years—freelance writing, editing my church’s monthly magazine, becoming a beta reader, proofreading a full-length manuscript—and finally someone bit the bait. Finally someone tugged on the line. Finally I received an offer!
And just like that, my entire life changed.
The job was in a new city, which meant I’d have to move out of Mama’s house, and I had just under two weeks to do it.
I frantically searched for apartments in the area. How much were rent and bills? Did I make enough? I sought to buy the bare essentials for furniture like a bed, a couch, a dining table and some chairs. Did I have enough closet space that I didn’t need a dresser? I collected toiletries, kitchen supplies. I packed everything I could fit into my tiny little red Hyundai and drove an hour and a half up the highway to my new place, new job, and new life.
Although getting acquainted with a new environment was stressful, I was more excited about my job. What experiences would this new assignment bring me? It’s not in the literary arts, but it is in academics, and I’ll still be doing my passion—writing, editing. It would give me the experience I needed to eventually pursue something more to my liking. But would I enjoy it, or would it become just another means to make money while also driving me crazy?
Almost three months later, and although the journey here was bumpy at times, I couldn’t be happier!
I finally have a job doing what I majored in while in college. My passion.
And I actually like it! Of course I do; it’s my passion!
I’ve risen from the statistical mud pit of degree-holding millennials who can’t find work and have become a perpetual student, reading and learning new subjects while I edit the language for others to read, understand, and learn.
What English major could ask for a better job?!
It’s only uphill from here, I pray.
. . .
Now, Mama says, if only she had a man . . .
Single . . . Mingle Me Not