Remembering the first day I made a conscious decision to be a writer; I wish you could have seen the inside of my head, it was lit up with crazy ideas brighter than the Fourth of July. My goodness, I made plans, like so many plans, I scribbled down ideas and practically drew the future on a piece of paper. At times, I would stay up throughout the night, conjuring plots, articles, twists and every other thing I could think of, because I wanted to be the best writer to grace this brown earth. Bought a lot of diaries, created an impressive catalog of what I wanted to achieve, had a timetable I was willing to work with, spent most of my time in solitude, and denied myself some comforts. I did all these because I felt it was what I was meant to do; inspire the world with my pen and paper.
But something happened to me.
I could recall the event of that day vividly, the day it all started, the day I felt it. We were having a family dinner; my Dad’s brothers and sisters had visited, bringing along their kids, my cousins, it was probably the biggest the family dinner I had ever witnessed. As we ate, we chatted merrily about so many stuffs, relevant and irrelevant topics alike, laughing at jokes and making fun of each other, it felt like eternity in the midst of those I loved. It was perfect. Along the line, the conversation switched, like the speed of light, to our parents advising us on future responsibilities. You could imagine the awkwardness we, the younger ones, all felt when the elderly advice started flowing, all we could do was to look down at our plates, suddenly finding the crumbs on our plates so interesting to admire, and probably wishing we could grow the balls to excuse ourselves. But that awkward moment was nothing compared to the moment when they started asking us what we wanted to do with our lives.
I could swear I felt the earth stop spinning and the room temperature suddenly rising to boiling point as hot droplets of sweat crowded my face. I don’t know why I felt that way; maybe because I wasn’t really ready to let them on my plan, or maybe I wasn’t too sure of myself, either way, I felt too afraid to divulge. And so, everyone, my cousins and I, one by one began to speak. I could hear the fear their voices and could practically see tension sitting their shoulders, it felt like were facing the firing squad. After each person had said want they wanted to do, the elderly ones would nod their heads in approval, giving suggestions on how to achieve the goal and promising to help them kick start their journey, and I felt, well, let see how mine will go.
It got to the turn of a cousin I admire so much, pretty, smart, cool headed, but she wasn’t really the golden child of her family. After a long silence, she said she wanted to be a writer, and like a heavy load, an inexplicable silence fell on everyone. My eyes widen with surprise and joy, thank God I wasn’t the only one on this path, and I smiled at her, but the older ones felt otherwise. A knot tightened in my tummy when they started asking her crazy questions and making weird statements about her choice career. I could feel arrows piercing through her, probably because I had decided to choose that line of career also, and a well of tears began to take form underneath her eyes. While they were still talking, she stood and left the room, leaving everyone in shock. Being the eldest amongst my cousins, I followed after her, not to bring her back, but to escape what I might receive, pretending I was going to console her. After that day, I began to doubt my decision.
Every night I would sit on my bed imagining what I want to achieve, where I want to go, what I want to do, and after all the imaginations, I start to asking myself, what will people say. If the people who are supposed to be my family and support don’t see me in the light I see myself, then is it really worth venturing into that path? Not to talk of what my peers would say. This became my burden. So I had to look for something more accommodating and interesting.
But something felt missing. All I wanted to do was to write and inspire, but here I was, being influenced to do something else. So I had to make a third decision, this time it was hard convincing myself to pursue it headlong. Scientists say, ones you take a decision, and someone talks you out of it, it will require seven times the original efforts to re-convince yourself, maybe that was what was happening, but I had to it.
Now, I realize I am starting late to do the thing I really want to do, even though I keep getting that ‘hope-you-know-what-you-are-doing’ stare, but I am feeling finally free. I have begun writing my first solo book, co-authored a few, and still have plans to write more, and while I feel so Urgent to do more, I feel like maybe this is the time to do this.
I believe it is better to start late than not to do it at all.