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selfless
moose
ilovelife94
At one point, I had an identity. I knew who I was and what I liked and didn't like and what my opinions were. I knew my political persuasions (liberal), my dream job (working at a newspaper), my religious affiliations (varied). I had convictions. When I got into a situation I didn't like, I looked deep into myself and said "Oh, well this is what EMILY would do." And then I did it.

And then I moved to Greenwood. 

Not knowing yourself is a scary and thrilling thing. Not knowing what you want to do in life, what you'd be good at, where you belong. Not knowing if anyone believes in you because you don't believe in yourself. All the stupid quotes that you've been told over and over again as a teenager — "Know thyself." "To thine own self be true." "Believe in yourself." — they all make sense, but you can't figure out what they mean. Or how to do it.

When I was little, I told this older girl in my preschool class that I wanted to be an artist. She made fun of me, and I immediately stopped telling people I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a writer instead, and that developed into me wanting to be a journalist/newspaper editor. Because it was easier? I don't know. I don't know what "being a writer" really means anymore. I don't know how people grow up and say, "Yeah, I'm a writer." But journalist, that made sense. You followed a specific trajectory and you got a job at a newspaper doing specific things. Writing was still involved.

And then I went and did it. I "lived my dream." I worked as a copy editor. I worked in a legit newspaper office. 

And it was horrible.

And now I don't know what to do.

How do you recover from that? From your lifelong dream absolutely sucking? It's not a dream deferred, but a dream shitty. 

And so I feel like the world is telling me who to be and how to be and what to wear and eat and say, and for the first time, I am listening. Because before, I could be like, "Well that's great for you, but that's not who I am," but you don't have that defense when you don't know who you are. Instead, you think "Why I am I not more like this person" or "Maybe this person is right" even if you secretly believe that person is a horrible human being who is perpetuating stereotypes about women and insecurities.

I used to look in the mirror and see this spark in my eyes and love it because it meant that I was IN THERE, that there was this brain that housed ME and when I saw other people who didn't have that spark, I wrote them off as dumb or inferior. It sounds so arrogant, so stupid now. But when I look in the mirror now my eyes are dull and lifeless and I realized that it's not that they were dumb, it's that they were wiser. That I was really the dumb one for scrutinizing this "spark" and thinking that it meant something other than being young and naive. 

I used to be able to put myself out there and receive a positive response from the world, a self-affirmation of "yes, you exist and are awesome and here's a list of people that think so," and now I am mostly ignored by potential employers I because I don't have a self to PUT out there.

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"When I was little, I told this older girl in my preschool class that I wanted to be an artist. She made fun of me, and I immediately stopped telling people I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a writer instead, and that developed into me wanting to be a journalist/newspaper editor. Because it was easier? I don't know. I don't know what "being a writer" really means anymore. I don't know how people grow up and say, "Yeah, I'm a writer." But journalist, that made sense. You followed a specific trajectory and you got a job at a newspaper doing specific things. Writing was still involved."

Had a similar thing. I used to sing and act in church and school stuff up until middle school. Somebody made fun of me because my singing voice wasn't deep enough, and I quit doing anything creative for a couple years.

The "journalism as what makes sense" thing is something I realized when I did my internship. I wanted to act and do comedy and write interesting stuff. But doing those things professionally is risky, so my parents wanted me to have a fallback. I looked at journalism and thought, "I guess I could express myself doing that, sometimes, with a cool editor." But my fallback is ridiculously competitive, and I found it hard to compete for something that's my fallback. Why not work that hard for what I actually want to do?

It's crazy how the little things that happen to us as children affect the rest of the trajectory of our lives. I was thinking about this the other day: Omega-3s are good for fetal brain development, right, so if a pregnant woman eats a healthy amount of fish, that could potentially/theoretically result in a healthier, smarter child. (On the other hand, so much mercury could be detrimental to a fetus, thus resulting in the opposite.) So, like, before we are even born, all these little factors are shaping our adult lives that won't happen for another 21 years or whatever. In my struggle to redefine myself I've been thinking about all the invisible forces that work on a person day to day to make you ... you. I can't help but wonder if someone (my parents) had steered me more toward science and given me sciency shit instead of books if I would have grown up to do something different. To be someone different.

Anyway, how is the comedy gig going? Doing what you actually want to do instead of doing "what makes sense professionally" is a bold move. I totally applaud you for it. I'm still trying to figure out "what I actually want to do" and how to go about making that happen. There's still time.

"There's still time."

David Norwood's kind of my inspiration with that. I didn't realize how much older he was until very recently. He pulled it all together and got a day job and out of school and in a cool place at 28. I've got another four or five years before I get seriously worried about anything.

Comedy's fun. Getting better. Trying to get a job somewhere I can get on stage every night.

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