Many of my friends know that I am member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. It’s an organization of people who care about writing. Many of them are amateurs, many are professionals, and many of us are somewhere in between.
Every year they hold a competition for writer of the year. On a Saturday afternoon in July, RMFW held a cocktail party to announce who would win the award for 2015. I decided to go because these are great opportunities to meet other writers and network.
This year the winner was another California transplant, like me, named Susan Spann. I was expecting Susan to say what was expected; thank you, I’m so humbled, what a surprise, etc. After doing that she said this.
We all turned to writing because at some point we felt we didn’t belong in this world; so we had to make our own.
Those words hit hard. Harder than almost anything I’ve heard, outside of church, for the last five years. It was so true.
I’m going to admit something; I have never felt like I belonged, anywhere.
In high school I tried playing sports and embarrassed myself.
I joined half a dozen clubs, too, and none of them fit me.
In my early twenties I coached high school sports, tried acting, joined a gym, role-played and got heavy into politics. I enjoyed most of it, but always felt like an outsider.
The closest I got to belonging, really belonging, was acting at the Renaissance Faire.
I was a teacher for 14 years. Every day I walked the halls I felt alienated. I didn’t get along with other teachers or my administrators. I felt closer to the security staff and the custodians than anybody else. I thought they were petty and small people. I thought some of them shunned me because of my politics, or my big mouth, or my weight. In a faculty meeting of 60 people I felt utterly alone.
Now I know it wasn’t any of them; it was me. I wasn’t meant to be there. I was the fish trying to work in a factory; I didn’t fit.
When I compare my teaching days to what I do now, I am overwhelmed by how happy I am. I have created a tribe of people around me. A tribe of writers who understand me, celebrate me, and accept me.
I don’t know where you are in life, but stop worrying about what you’re supposed to do and start figuring out what you want to do. Listen to what your peers say to a point; be open to every opportunity; work hard and what you enjoy; be humble and help others along the way.
I know everyone says this, but I have found it to be true. Don’t wait until you’re 43, like I did. Go out there and take a chance.
In the last six months I’ve been asked to run an online magazine, I sat on panels at Denver Comic Con (more of that in my next blog), did a book pitch which lead to a sample request, and I’m going to teach online classes in writing.
I never thought I would fit in. I never thought I would belong, but I do.
If you’re reading this and you’re unhappy in your life, make changes today. Ask for help, take calculated but bold steps, and move in the direction of your happiness; find your tribe.