Have you ever felt a tug, deep inside, that strings you along a path you never expected? Like despite your life plans, an alien voice inside is calling you to a desire you’ve never contemplated? That’s what happened to me during my first college degree. I enrolled in a degree plan called ‘Applied Science’ which at the time encompassed all courses that involved technology and electricity (there were no official programming degrees then). My goal was to learn computer programming because I figured it was the quickest way to make enough money to support my children that I now was raising by myself.
I had to complete the core curriculum classes (or as my husband would put it, the waste-my-time-and-money-courses); you know, math, English, science, history, and speech (they called it oral communication, but come on, we all know what it is). I figured I would breeze through those just like I did in high school, and then wash my hands of it, and for the most part, that’s exactly what happened.
The one anomaly I encountered was in English class. My professor was this amazing hippy who loved words. There was a creative writing segment where we were all forced to write poetry. I had never in my life written a poem before, but I gave it all I had and turned it in, then thought nothing else of it.
A month later, my professor asked me to stay after class. She informed me that I had won third place in a poetry contest that she submitted my work to (yes, submitted without my consent), and that she had a surprise for me on the upcoming Saturday. She begged me to attend this event, and I agreed.
Upon arriving to the event, the professor handed me a copy of my poem and a check for $100 bucks, then informed me a requirement of the contest was to stand up in front of this group of strangers and read my piece. My first thought was Holy Shit, but once the panic subsided, I marched up there and stammered through my poem. Knowing full well I bombed it, the crowd stood and applauded me anyway. I felt amazing in that moment.
This event sparked an unexpected desire in me to continue writing. I think it was this moment that I realized I needed to follow my new found impulse. I needed to write because I couldn’t stand not to. I needed write because the words in my head might burst, and crowd out other genius ideas I might have in the future. I needed write to alleviate hours of agonizing insomnia. I needed write because I had stories to tell, whether that be a personal reflection, a hope and a wish, or a frightening tale. I needed write because there are things I wanted to say. I needed write because it soothed me. I needed write because that’s who I was – a writer.
Over the years I have gotten so much joy from writing, even if no one else reads it, and even if I never get paid to do it. My advice to anyone who is experiencing an unexpected desire to do something different is – follow that path. That path will lead you to personal contentment.