Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Unlocking the closet.....

I’m a writer. It only took me 45 years to speak the truth out loud. I don't know what I thought people would do when those words were floated out there for everyone to hear. Run for the exits?

I’ve been writing since I was ten. I wrote an article about the Blue Angels that was published in the base newspaper wherever my dad was stationed at the time. It all runs together after a while when you live the life of a nomad. But I do remember the feeling of pride in my gut as I saw my words --MY words--there in print for everyone to read. 
But I never took myself seriously as a writer, so no one else did, either. My emotions have always poured out on the page, giving a voice to my heart, but to think of myself in those terms was so foreign. Writers were reclusive hermits who couldn't support themselves. Weren't they? 

So, I followed the path of least resistance in college and became a teacher. For fifteen years I taught middle school social studies (not English, though....I even shied away from teaching about words), passing our country's lessons on to a generation that seemed not to care. Later, I dabbled in this and that, putting my strengths in organizational skills and training in the business world for another 15 years, but my heart wasn’t invested there. I was still scribbling behind closed doors, a closet scribe afraid of being outed.

It wasn’t until I attended a meeting of women active in business in my city that I finally accepted--admitted--my calling. During the requisite introductions, I repeated my normal job description like an automaton,  complete with awards and acknowledgments for work accomplished well. For some reason, though, all the years of denying myself, the person in hiding, demanded to be loosed, and my soul as a writer scrabbled at the closed door, sniffing along the crack near the floor. As the last woman finished, I took a deep breath and asked if I could amend my resume. 
All eyes turned and looked at me expectantly. And for the first time, I accepted my role in life: “Good evening, my name is Deborah and I’m a writer.”
Today I tell young people to hold tight to the seams of that one thing that they love to do. Clutch it to their hearts and don't let anyone steal it from them. And the world will try, that's for certain.  But we often lock the door to the closet ourselves.
It took me far too long to give voice to my passion, my very reason for being. Wasted years? I haven't worked that one out yet, because I also believe our paths shape us every step of the way. But it shouldn't take decades to break down the door. 

Chase down your passion like it's the last bus of the night. 
~Terri Guillemets

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