Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Confession Tuesday (on Wed.): The Find Your Tribe Edition
It's been two missed confessions and a lot of everything else going on. Apologies.
But with that apology, I realize I owe you two weeks worth of confessions, or perhaps, just to be even more honest, a little more vulnerable.
Because you waited two weeks, I will not tell you how when making a chocolate sundae at a sundae bar, I hide huge amounts of chocolate sauce under the ice cream so people do not think I'm being piggy, however, there is no way to hide my gluttonous use of whipped cream. I confess, when it comes to sweets, I love more.
So that's not what we're going to talk about. Let's get to the passion. To the confessional--
I confess last night I returned to my MFA program taking place in the beautiful Pacific Lutheran University. I was a student there in 2004, almost ten years ago. I started my MFA program 3 weeks after my stepfather, who I loved, passed away unexpectedly from a stroke. I was a younger mother leaving her 3 1/2 year old to attend school. All of it felt overwhelming and scary, and yet, I showed up and began.
Returning to school to get my MFA made me realize how much more comfortable I am with writers, or maybe it's a bigger group-- artists, people who are not satisfied with just being one thing--a mother, a wife, a husband, a teacher, a father, a worker, a ____________ (fill in the blank) and create.
I love being with people who are so passionate about something so much that they need their own time. And they get cranky when they don't have it.
Last night, just walking into this new group of people, I felt completely comfortable even though I didn't know everyone and in fact, there were so many I didn't know.
I saw some of my favorite faculty members-- Peggy Shumaker, Brenda Miller, David Biespiel, Kevin Clark, Ann Pancake, Linda Bierds, Sherry Simpson, and of course, the director of the program Stan Rubin & Judith Kitchen, some alums now working for the program - Katrina & Rebecca -, a few students in the program I recognized, but a lot of people I didn't know, but who oddly, I felt a connection with even though we had just met.
This is what it means to find your tribe.
This is why it's important whether online or in-person (in-person is so much better) that you connect with other writers.
Last night my good writer friends laughed at my "problems" --I was half-complaining that all my book deadlines have fallen during summer and how much editing work I've taken on and how I've hardly gone out and paddleboarded. They said, "Yes, those are terrible problems-- you're publishing your 3rd book and you're getting paying work, we feel for you." It's always nice to have friends call you out on your BS.
And they did this in the sweet way and an understanding way. Saying things like, "Sometimes I feel as if I'm not using my summer correctly either" and "I get it, you need to let stuff drop away so your own writing time can come in."
People either love your writing tendencies or despise you for it.
They think you're selfish, whiny, narcissistic, introverted, or completely in your crazy dreamland, or they love you for it.
Sometimes when I'm out in the world without my friends who are writers, I feel awkward.
I confess I hate small talk and just want to get to what really matters. I can't talk about the weather anymore.
We need to surround ourselves with people who support our quirkiness and weird creative needs.
I confess, I am currently photographing garbage.
Yes, I go to the beach each day, pick up garbage, bring it back to my home and photograph it. It's crazy, but I feel as if I'm creating something larger, it's become a side project.
My family does not think it's weird that there are plastic bottles on our walkway and not in the garbage can. They realize this is me. They know if I don't do my creative projects, I am cranky. I get all tense and want to be alone. Need to be alone.
Some people don't understand this. They will say you're being rude or selfish. They will say you should be 1) keeping a lovely home 2) working more overtime so your family can have nice things 3) hanging out with more friends.
Don't believe them.
Believe we are all put on this earth to do something more and if you don't know what that is, quiet down and listen to your inner voice.
Sometimes it's hard to hear because of all the chatter in the world. That's the challenge.
But we are not put on this earth to create a body without cellulite or to fit in a pair of size 8 jeans. We are not put on this earth to worry about dustbunnies or have a weed-free yard.
We are put on this earth to do something greater.
You might not have the level of Oprah to touch a billion viewers, but no worries, that job is taken. Your job is not.
Your position on earth has not been filled until you fill it.
If there's a weird nagging voice inside of you that is calling you to write, then do it. It's not there for the heck of it.
If you get the urge to paint, do it.
If you get the urge to start a group that helps abandoned dogs, go for it.
The goal is to create.
We each have something we're passionate about.
Sometimes we're afraid to follow that passion because we're afraid it won't work out. Here's the deal-- doing what you don't love is when it isn't working out. Living a life you don't want to lead is when it's not working out.
Yes, it's scary. I'm freaked out most of the time, but at least I'm happy. Happy with the occasional freakout is better than unhappy in a unsatisfying comfortable life.
I confess returning to my MFA program reminded me how much better I am when I am being a writer in the world.
Sometimes you don't know the impact your having on others. Most of the time you don't know the impact you're having on others. Quality over quantity every time.
I confess I have to work on this all the time. I quit my corporate job in 1997 and I'm *still* constantly reminding myself I don't have to live my life like other people.
I can be one of those kids doing her own thing. And that's okay. And for me, it's better.
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Written by Kelli Russell Agodon