Having come to a (holiday) break in my studies, it was time to return to the world of work to help me (financially) with taking care of myself and my family while I finished the MA programme. Around that time, a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while asked me what I was studying, expecting to hear something that, in her mind, would justify the (unpaid) break I’d taken from a relatively established day job.
‘I’m doing an MA in Creative Writing.’
Her expression reminded me of the point in a sci-fi cartoon when the man-made robot starts to malfunction and, in response to a query or command says something like ‘…does not compute.’ For her, it didn’t. To leave the career I was pursuing to study was in itself difficult to understand, to leave it to study Writing just about boggled (her) mind. Her next question was “So (insert former career path) was just smoke and mirrors, then?” followed by a comment about how she, for one, had a family and college-bound children to support.
Her comment not only made me question why her mind could only encompass one or other career path as part of my identity (as opposed to both), it also got me thinking about the importance I attach to being who I am. I’ve reached the stage of my life where it’s of paramount importance to me to live authentically. Pursuing the MA was always a goal of mine, writing was forever a passion. Sometimes it simmered while I pursued other things and sometimes I allowed it to take the pride of place it actually holds in my heart. What’s non-negotiable for me now is that it will have my primary energy and focus from now on. I may have to work to eat, but how I make my living is not my life.
This year, I’ve decided, I’ll be writing ‘Writer’ on any and every official form that requests my occupation. A small thing, but an important statement, nevertheless.
I’m coming out!