Monday, August 2, 2010

Life's many boxes

I dream ... of being a writer. No, not just a writer. A published novelist. Stories grow like vines along my mind and writing is the only way I know how to release them.

Ever since I quit journalism to be more involved in my community, I have been cautious to call myself a writer. Only when I was actually getting paid to write, did I ever feel like I could call myself a writer.

Perhaps I am not alone when I say that my life is made up of various boxes. I'm not sure if they are boxes I've established or if they were established for me by society.

There's the box that is the mother and all things motherhood. There's the box who is a writer and creative type. There's the box that holds wife/household CEO. There's also the friendship box. The real job work box. The politics box. The social justice interests/volunteer box.

So many boxes. I often feel like I'm flitting about from one box to another, never allowing any of the boxes to touch or stack together like a solid structure or mass. But perhaps it's about brevity. Who really wants to sit through an introduction like: I'm a liberal, anti-racist mother who works for the House of Representatives who aspires to write novels, solve world problems and create art all day.

Instead, the boxes are laid out on a map and I happily -- or not so happily -- travel on paths, some smooth, some rocky, from one area to the other like a good little child who doesn't misbehave.

At work, I am not a writer. When marketing my writing, I hide that side of me who is a government worker, afraid of allowing one life to clash with the other. When I'm with friends, I am not always the mother. Or, I'm the mother, not wanting to be the mother and just wanting to be just a woman.

More often than not, I'm a woman who wants to be creative but cannot because of so many other boxes that don't allow for that.

I woke up to this reality a few months ago and decided that being a writer is who I am and that will never change no matter what I'm doing. I set out with fierce intentions to be known as that and nothing more. It will take time to change that image of the many persons I have been known as. It started with my Twitter account but I'm changing it in my social circles as well. Simply by saying, I have a dream to friends is enough to let the dream soar through the air.

I have also found that releasing my dreams has helped other friends release theirs. Then, they no longer are just another mother or another co-worker but women who dream of being something more.

I used to think that to be happy, I needed to be just one thing. Now, I just think that all of these boxes -- scattered and crazy -- are exactly who I am meant to be.

Authenticity, I now believe, is not being afraid to carry these boxes, even if one at a time, and be willing to open them when the time is ripe -- and close the others when you know they need closed.

Now that you know my dream. What is yours? Start yelling it across the rooftops right here, right now.

(I also dream of learning to cook authentic Indian food.)


  1. I dream of being a photographer!

  2. I think that writer, like artist, is just one of those things that you are. The rest is also things you are... like even if you are writer you can easily also be a sister. Agreed that motherhood can make any other job harder. But writers can be mothers and friends too.....

    I am an artist. And a researcher. (I find things, its a natural talent) and a visualiser, and a mother and a household CEO (I LIKE that way of putting it!)

  3. I am blown away by how deeply I relate to this post Shawn. I want to be 40,000 different things "when I grow up". What's most amusing to me is that some days I think I can actually be all of those things. Sometimes the boxes stack well on top of one another and they interconnect so neatly. At other times the boxes are mangled and scattered, upside down, backwards and with their contents strewn all over the place. It's all terribly disorganized and that shaming voice in the back of my mind says "See, you can only be ONE THING. Pick ONE THING and live with it."

    Picking one thing and sticking with it has proven impossible for me. I am only alive when I can flit and flutter from this to that. Picking up inspiration here, dropping a little creativity there.

    I am passionate and spirited not flaky and unstable. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of living to be able to say that.

    Today, I'm yelling from my rooftop to yours that I dream of being:
    A social activist
    A therapist
    A person with a continuously clean house
    A writer
    A consultant
    A helper
    A master gardener with a lack of weeds
    A community mobilizer
    A baker
    A graduate
    A person who makes exercise a priority
    A philanthropist
    A hostess
    A mentor

    So thanks for your post and the invite to shout from the rooftops.