Sunday, March 27, 2011

Just Because You're Good at It, Doesn't Mean You Should Do It.

I planned an executed a detailed fairy treasure hunt (there were keys, poems and double clues involved.) I made tea sandwiches and cupcakes, I made mini pizzas. I made 'fairy fizz'; I decorated with light up lanterns and I coordinated table cloth, napkins and shell pink cutlery. I bought fairy themed movies and I made up a playlist of fairy-inspired music, burned them onto discs, had my husband design CD covers (including tray card) and inserted that into an already bulging gift bag.

Yes, my seven year old's friends got swag.

I don't have to do it. I'm not sure my daughter's birthday wouldn't have been just as enjoyable if I'd gone the dreaded Chuck E Cheese route. But I'm an event planner and I'm good at it. What's more, when I do it, I usually get paid for it, today being the exception unless you count sticky kisses.

This was a major stumbling block to trying to create a sustainable writing life. I already had a sustainable life, thank you very much. It was sustaining my ass in new shoes, vacations and grocery shopping at Whole Foods, for chrissakes. It was so daunting giving up something I was good at and had proof that I was good at (years of promotions, experience, cute business cards) for something that I didn't know if I'd be good at. And, worse, I didn't know if I'd ever find out if I was good at it.

When I was a kid it confused me that I was good at more than one thing. The phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none" was drilled into my head at an early age. So I knew that, even when I was a good dancer, a good artist, good at singing, good at acting that I could only pick one to master. At the time, mastering something seemed very important. Having a 'calling' was big in our house, having a (singular) talent. I was Art and my Sister was science and everything else was just a hobby. So I went to art school, then art grad school, then got a job as a tea lady, I was so effing confused. I didn't know that just because I was good at something didn't mean that wasn't necessarily what I should do. I didn't know that the 'Jack of all trades master of none' saying is essentially bullshit and that people, all people, have tremendous, nearly ridiculous capacity for achievement.

I do know that now, kind of. I know it in my head. I'm just trying to learn it in my... Jeez. I don't want to say heart, it's so corny. You know what I mean.


  1. I ran into the same dilemma before I decided to push aside monetary security and become a writer. College was never something I wanted to do, but I went to make my mother happy. Freshman year, I started out as an Elementary Teaching Major. By the time Sophomore year rolled around, I changed my major to English. I graduated without a clue as to what I wanted to do, so I fell back on what my parents always thought I should do, teach. Well, three more years of schooling and three years of teaching left me miserable and unhappy. I received the kick in the pants I needed to pursue my life-long dream of writing when I wasn't asked to return to the school I was teaching at in Philadelphia.

    Sure there are obstacles and stress I run into with my new path in life, but I can assure you I couldn't be happier.

  2. Wow. I think we must be living the same life. I have felt the same way. Sometimes being able to do a lot of things makes it harder to figure out what you should be doing. I think that's why it took me so long to realize that I should be trying to make a living out of all the writing I do anyway.

    Ah well, sometimes it takes awhile to figure things out.

    I'm intrigued by your fairy party, by the way. I'm just now trying to figure out what to do for my daughter's fifth birthday. I was considering Chuck E Cheese but she hates the stupid mouse. I have no idea what to do. Love the fairy idea...


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