Wednesday, May 11, 2011

the secret of V2

When I was young, I wanted to be a lot of things. Most of them were things my parents suggested based on my interests, my intelligence, and my future ability to make mad cash and buy them fancy cars. But as time went by, I decided I didn't really want to be a doctor or a vet or an advertising executive.

I got to high school, and I was told I could be anything I wanted to be, but no one told me how to reach my goals. There was no how-to guide for any of the jobs I considered, and so when it came time to choose a college major, I just did what I was: art.

It was three of the most miserable years of my life, and the piece of paper I finally got in exchange for my time is actually pretty useless. Here's the truth, kids: No job description begins with "Studio Artist Wanted."

And I didn't know what to do with myself, so I did what I had always done, working at local arts centers. It's a fun, interesting job that barely pays minimum wage, and there are approximately 2 job openings every 10 years, mainly if someone dies.

After my daughter was born, I quit. I was lucky enough that my husband's well-planned career made enough money for a comfortable life without my minimum-wage art salary.

But I had no idea what to do with myself.

I tried going back to painting murals, but that wasn't much fun with a baby, plus that one crazy weasel-woman broke my heart and ruined it all. I tried making my own baby slings, but that was a minefield of possible lawsuits.

And then one day, I wrote a book.

And it was an awful book.

I didn't realize it was awful until I'd given it a read through, changing typos and grammatical errors along the way. I saw flaws in the story, dull spots, things that needed work. So I did a full revision. And then I let some friends read it and did another. And another.

That book didn't find an agent. But the next one did.

And I learned a major lesson, one of the most important ones in my life:

Everything requires revision. Nothing is perfect the first time.

Every book you've ever loved? The author has done 10 revisions, the agent has done 3 read-throughs, the editor has ripped it apart with a red pen, and a team of copywriters have descended upon it like a hoard of hungry monkeys.

But it goes beyond books, too.

My career now?

It's a revision.

I picked the wrong major. Maybe I picked the wrong college. I picked the wrong degree and the wrong job market. But you know what? The second version of my career, my V2, is going pretty well. I was meant to be a writer.

And it goes past my career. I even dumped my husband-- and was dumped by him-- before we got married. And I dated a lot of nice-- but not quite right-- guys before that.

Some days, I don't feel like a very good mother. And I think, "Tomorrow, I get a chance to be better. I get a do-over."

Basically, I've learned that there's always room for change, for personal betterment. For a revision. If something isn't working, it might be worth brainstorming and trying again. Making a list of pros and cons. Following a dream instead of sticking to the same old routine or career or path of thought that clearly isn't working for you.

I'm sure Dr. Phil has said it much more eloquently, but life is a constant work of art, something that requires erasing and sketching and studying. Nothing is set in stone. Revision is always in your power.

It's never too late for a V2.

Or a V3. Or a V4.

Or even, sometimes, V10.


Tanya said...

100% agreed said the 31-year-old college student.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Yup. great post.

I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but I'm ok with that.

urfaqhesse said...

V3! V3! V3! I love this version.
i tried to dump Ryan once because i decided i was to crazy to be in a relationship. he said "no."

FreeRange Pamela said...

Good post and good reminder that we're always evolving -- and that's OK.

my3littlebirds said...

I'm with you. I have written a lot about this lately, actually. My issue has been MY OWN acceptance of who I am meant to be. I'm nearly 34 and am just coming to terms with it all. Thanks for the post.

Heather said...

I needed to hear that today. Sometimes I feel so stuck in the life I have (career and hobby-wise...I love my husband!), but I'm the only one keeping myself here.

resolute twig said...

Awesome post. You are so right and life is better when we let go of versions that dont work and move on to the next.

Virginia Valerie said...

I'll take a 5.0 V8. :-)

I agree with your post.

delilah, the unruly helpmeet said...

I'd just like to tell you guys how much I miss the 10 comments Blogger ate. They meant a lot to me, and I keep coming back to read them, and they're gone, and I shake a fist at Blogger and sniffle quietly.