If our lives are our stories, do we write the narrative?
I've been thinking about this as I prepare for – and dread – a big college reunion. What was I thinking I would do, back then? Who would I be? I know I wanted to write. But I didn't think, back in the day, that there was a job I could try for that would really let me do that. I could be a journalist, which wasn't exactly what I wanted. Or I could work in publishing, although a summer internship with a very sweet university press had left me bored to tears. I ended up deciding on a career in magazine journalism and, well, look at me now.
I'm happy. I really am. Much happier than I'd have predicted back in the day. But in many ways, I'm also less successful. I work at home, in my sweats, and I earn my living by my pen. (Okay, by my iMac.) But I do a lot of writing for hire that is less than fun and certainly less than glamorous, and 25 years after graduating from a big, old prestigious school, I still worry about the bills.
In the run up to the reunion, I've touched base with some old friends and found that they tend to feel the same way. There's one former running buddy who can't believe she's working part-time as the "low woman on the totem pole." There's another who admitted to feeling embarrassed because she gave up on the sciences (after getting a doctorate and doing serious post-doc work!) to become a lawyer. We've all ended up in different places, along different paths, than we expected.
I was thinking about this while I was driving to my gym (even though it is now too late to lose 20 lbs by the reunion). I was also listening to my favorite guilty pleasure, an all-hits radio station. And then this came on:
You get up every morning
From your alarm clock's warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There's a whistle up above
And people pushin', people shovin'
And the girls who try to look pretty
And if your train's on time
You can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get your pay
If you ever get annoyed
Look at me I'm self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day
And I'll be...
Taking care of business every day
Taking care of business every way
I've been taking care of business, it's all mine
Taking care of business and working overtime
So that's my story, and I'm sticking with it!
Happy reunion, old friends. I look forward to seeing you all.