What do you do when you wake up one day and realize you’ve given up? That at some point an invisible contract had been signed, saying you waive your rights to do better, to be better? That settling is enough, and maybe, just maybe, you’re not really any better off than your parents were before you?
Well, if you’re me, you put red, then blue, then pink and platinum in your black hair. You wear knee-high shitkickers and too much eyeliner.
Just like the gothlings before me – those who had sense enough to buck the system before it swallowed them whole – I became all that my parents found unacceptable.
It wasn’t a juvenile attempt at revenge, or the blame game. It was simply my declaration of gaining back the future I’d signed away in that moment I accepted the possibility of being mediocre.
In high school, I was as idealistically naive as anyone could be. I wanted to become a forest ranger – despite my abhorrence of insects, my loathing of sleeping on the ground (particularly when that surface had any chance of turning into mud), and a general concern with being shot at. Still, the idea of being nature’s protector called to me. Of course, it never happened.
After that flash of brilliance came teaching, and then nursing. But, my math skills were abysmal and my patience limited. Again with the unattainable goals.
Oh yeah, I also wanted to be a writer. Funny, the only profession that called to me was the one I shied away from the most. If something came easily to me – as writing did – then it couldn’t be worth having, right? I needed a profession in which I had to struggle, cry every other day, and nearly kill myself studying for in order to feel worthy of the end result.
But, I have yet another quality – inherent laziness. Too frustrated for advanced algebra, too dumb for chemistry, and too ready to snap little necks rather than see the innocent wonder in acts of impishness, I just left school.
I hopped from job to job, entertaining the most ridiculous ideas of where my life was going and how I was going to get there. In the meantime, I settled in. I became accustomed to the trained monkey work. I got used to not having to think, of having zero inspiration. The writing dried up. My happiness dwindled. Ten years passed, and I was mired in complacency.
How did I manage to find my way back out? Not by any act of heroism on my part. Not by genius or determination. Only by luck, and love.
It’s taken me the better part of two years, but I’ve finished my first novel, a dark fantasy called “Resonance.” In my new quest for publication, I find myself on the unknown path. I’ve checked my complacency at the door.
I’ve stopped railing against ghost enemies.