It's weird when you realize you're old enough to reflect on your life with something resembling the maturity of an adult. Ten years ago this month, I started college. I also started my first job, ever. (I know - sheltered much?) I was really excited about this new job. It was in my chosen field, at the time. I couldn't wait to dive in and gain all this experience that would also apply to what I was studying in school.
Then reality set in. There was a learning curve, and boy, did I ever have a lot to learn. I made mistakes. Lots of mistakes. I dwelled on them. I got discouraged. I worried about what other people thought of me. I worried that I wasn't smart/skilled/tough/fast enough to do my job well. There were times I really wanted to quit, if they didn't fire me first.
But you know what? I stuck it out. I learned a lot. I got better. I made some great friends in my co-workers. And when I graduated college, I left that job on good terms.
Now, I wish I could travel back in time for a chat with that scared, excited, nervous, stressed, eager, naive, utterly FREAKED-OUT child just stepping into her big-girl shoes for the first time. I would say to my 18-year-old self, "You hang in there. This all works out. You're so much better than you think you are." And then I would give me a hug, even though I'm not a hugger, because that was what I really needed at the time, even though I wasn't a hugger back then either.
So tonight, as I was plunking away on my book with only tiramisu and Janiel's banana orange bars to sustain me, I wondered, will I feel this way again in ten more years? Will I look back on my frusterated, discouraged, oh-my-freak-I-will-never-ever-ever-get-this-stupid-thing-DONE-let-alone-PUBLISHED self and say, "You hang in there. This all works out. You're so much better than you think you are"?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say, yes. Yes I will.
Last week, I quoted my friend Rob: If the story is worth telling, it's worth telling crappy the first time. Excellent writing advice, but I've decided it applies to more than that. Embrace the learning curve, my friends. Life is a bunch of first go's, and anything worth doing is worth doing crappy the first time.
Unless, you know, you're a brain surgeon. Then it's probably best to do it right every time.