Years ago, when I was in high school and my world spun on a different axis, I auditioned for a play. I wanted the lead role really badly. I was having the typical “what do I do with my life?” crisis and I thought that getting cast in this role would somehow confirm that theater was my place in the world I was about to enter. When I got a callback, I thought, I am going to get this part, and this part is going to be my answer to all the big questions I was asking about theater and the future.
But it wasn’t.
I didn’t get the part. And I was pretty sad about that for a while1. Mostly, I was upset because I thought this show was my answer—something that was going to set me on a course towards my destiny—and it wasn’t.
But it turns out, it kind of was. Because I wasn’t cast in that show, I had my first opportunity to direct a play, which set me indirectly on a path towards children’s literature2.
Fast forward a few years. Just before I moved to Boston, I started having Second Thoughts. You may be familiar with Second Thoughts. They are those niggling little worms of doubt that accompany any big change or decision you ever make in life. If you’re me, they also come with anxiety, nausea, and mild panic attacks every thirty or so minutes. How would I ever pay off these student loans? What was the point of an MFA when people get published all the time without one? Isn’t children’s lit just a stupid thing to study? Maybe this was a waste of time.
So the big question became, Should I move to Boston?
Then, a few months before I moved, I was asked to interview for a dream job. This is a sign, I thought. I am going to get this job, and I will not do my MFA and I will not move to Boston and I will not get up to my eyeballs in debt. This is my answer.
But it wasn’t.
Since you read this blog, you probably know I didn’t get that job. I was a sad over this for a while, and this was magnified by my anxiety over the move to Boston and the start of the MFA. But it turns out that job was my answer. My answer was moving to Boston, because now I’m exactly where I should be.
About a year ago, I got my heart broken in an “I will never love again” sort of way. But then I met a young man with whom I had Chemistry with a capital C. He was handsome and charming and we had the same favorite poem and affinity for jazz-age disillusionment. This guy, I thought, is going to counteract all the damage done by the first one. Even if we don’t have some epic love story, he is going to restore my faith in love and romance. This is my answer, I thought.
But it wasn’t.
He ended up being a tool, and I ended up seeing The Great Gatsby alone. But in a way, he was an answer. An answer to the question of, “Do I need someone to be happy with who I am3?”
This week, I thought I was going to get an answer.
But, as you might have guessed, I didn’t.
And it’s hard, in the wake of disappointment, to look at things not working out as maybe being an answer. I can tell myself these stories and still not recognize the direct correlation to my current situation.
But while right now I am lamenting the fact that I did not get my answer, a small part of me understands that in a way, I did.
- I was definitely pretty scowly as I sat in the audience and watched the performance.
- Via directing plays for people, then directing plays for slightly smaller people, and then discovering that those small people are usually the best people.
- Answer: No.