Agent Jessica Faust wrote a post today about how she began making her dreams come true. It's got me thinking about bravery, and taking chances, and what kind of person am I.
I'd like to think I am that kind of person. The kind who takes chances and risks and sets out on adventures. I'm not sure if I actually am that person, but I want to be that kind of person. It's the reason I chose to go to an out of state university when there were plenty of in-state universities and private colleges I could have gone to - but were crowded with people I knew.
It was the reason that, when I was 21 and graduating college and looking for a teaching job, I thought to myself, "This is the chance to break out and go somewhere completely different." I wanted badly to go overseas, but the schools overseas required two years of experience, so I resigned myself to getting those two years under my belt in the most un-east-coast-like place I could find.
In January of 1992 I packed my Toyota Tercel to the hilt with everything in the world I owned and drove from Virginia to Texas to take a job in a state I didn't hardly know a soul. As it turned out, I didn't really know the food or culture or language either. Or the music. Or the fashion.
It only took a few weeks to begin to feel like I had made a huge mistake. I hated teaching - especially since I stepped in to take over another teacher's class who clearly had spent half a year not teaching. I hated my lonely apartment. I felt trapped by my less than livable wage salary ($812 a month, $503 of which went to the rent). To call it homesickness wouldn't even come close. But I'd made a commitment, and I determined to stick with it at least until summer.
By summer, I'd made a few friends, including the man I would later marry. I'd bought a pair of Justin Ropers, fallen in love with Tex Mex food, and could say y'all casually as well as the next guy. I was vastly afraid of looking like a failure, so I signed up for another year, determined to really give it a go before quitting.
And it turned out that having a class from the beginning was a far different cry than taking over someone else's. And I loved it. And slowly, that place became home.
My parents love to tell the story of how I packed everything in my car and drove across country to a place I didn't know. They think I'm brave. In truth, maybe I was more stupid than brave. But I look at that now and think, is that going to be the main act of courage in my life?
When I decided to write and pursue publishing, that felt brave. Even braver - telling people that I was doing it. But I won't lie. Sometimes I wonder if I am more stupid than brave. Is it only bravery when it actually works out? I wonder if I am wasting my time pursuing a dream that may not be meant to be. How much persistence is important, and how much is just plain desperation going nowhere?