Writing for the Sake of Writing

After I graduated from college, I plummeted into depression because I couldn’t get a job. So many people struggle to find one, but I assumed it was because of my disability. In retrospect, there were other reasons, a major one being that I lacked experience. In college, I mainly focused on getting high grades. I thought I’d get a PhD in English. I dabbled in other things like copyediting, tutoring, and creative writing, but nothing really stuck with me. I loved creative writing the most. I should’ve taken a class earlier, but again, I was always too focused on completing my major. Not one of my professors in college encouraged me to get a PhD. I would have if someone did. It’s not that they doubted my skills (although I’m not boasting that I was the smartest student either). Rather, they gave me a reality check that the PhD route can lead to unemployment in the end with only so many tenure spots that exist. Over time, I operated on fear. To me, it wasn’t this could happen. I saw it as this will happen. I’d be in debt. I’d be unemployed. I’d have a PhD, but I would be in debt. Because I let that fear rule me, I didn’t even give myself the chance to really see if I loved thinking and writing critically about English literature. I didn’t have enough time anyway – right around the corner was my graduation.

It’s really painful when you work hard towards something and you give it up in the end. And yet, me not having pursued the PhD route turned out to be a blessing. Yes, I struggled for nine months after graduating to secure a solid job, but at age 25 now I see that I was following a system of “what you should do.” What do you do with an English degree? You teach, most people say. That’s what I thought of doing. As embarrassing as it is, I followed my mom’s advice. It’s not that I can’t think for myself; rather, at times when I am lost, when so many thoughts are muddled in my mind, like many people who turn to their parents, I ask my mom for her input because I trust her. Because she knows me. Because she’s smart.

But I think me having majored in English in the first place shows what an atypical route I took. I left high school early, went to community college, and transferred to a four-year university fast. I picked English as my major instead of practical majors like science or engineering because I wanted to immerse myself in the study of the human experience. I suppose I was thinking too dreamily, too illogically, because ultimately, one does need to get a job to survive in this world. I didn’t think enough about that. I always just focused on getting good grades.

Grad school still feels like a secure plan B for me. I still see it that way because I, like many people, dislike my job. I’m incredibly thankful for it because it allows me to eat, but it does not fuel a passion in me. It’s a job – a duty I have to constantly perform. So many of my friends are going to law school or have graduated from law school. I know that I’d be good at it, but I’m afraid of accruing debt, of realizing once again that I don’t actually like it after pursing the end goal all this time. That’s why I was told to do informational interviews, to get another job that would allow me to see what working in law would really be like. There are so many jobs one can get in the world of law. But I quickly became discouraged when the lawyers I did ask weren’t encouraging. In retrospect, I asked the wrong question: should I go to law school? I should have asked what do you do in a typical day? What do you like/dislike the most about your job? What is the most insightful lesson you’ve realized during your career as a lawyer? I didn’t ask any of these questions because I was looking for permission instead. Yes, go to law school! Yes, you’ll do great! Yes, you’ll be rich and happy and your job will be purposeful and people will love you! Yes, go!

I needed that green light because I let fear get to me. Fear prevents me from getting up in the first place. It stops everything and doesn’t let in life. I know you have to do things despite being fearful and that you don’t have to be completely ready, that you can take small steps. But fear has amplified my view of all things that can go wrong; it won’t let me focus just on the very first step.

It’s funny because my fear always has been that I won’t be able to take care of myself, that I’ll be at a dead-end job, and that I’ll be unhappy. My current circumstances aren’t exactly this right now, but I am unfulfilled. I practice gratitude, and that’s the only thing that gives me a little bit of light in my life at the moment. Basically, I am already close to living my worst nightmare, so that should free me to make risks. What is there to lose when you’ve already met your fear?

I’m writing this because I just wanted to get something on the page. I’m writing this for the sake of writing, to just write. Writing has been my haven every time I’ve been lost and depressed in my life. I’m tired of pursuing things that don’t make me happy. My current job temporarily did. I don’t want to pursue another job that I’ll ultimately feel unfulfilled with, too. I know that I am writing this with immense privilege because many people don’t even have the time to pause for a second. They’re too busy taking care of someone else or putting food on the table or worrying about something else. To be able to take a moment and think about yourself and yourself only is a privilege.

To me, writing is my journey, not my destination. It is the constant that exists in my life, the vehicle I drive. I feel like I am driving aimlessly, with no destination in mind. I want to have goals. I don’t want to live a hedonistic life. I am thankful for so many pleasures: the sunrise, the soft breeze, the occasional brunch, a smile from a stranger. I just don’t want to pursue anymore. I don’t want to be disillusioned anymore. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to try or learn or grow. I want to do all three, but in a way that feels authentic to me.

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