And continuing this week’s look back on young career aspirations, we have reached high school.
By this point, I knew I loved writing. I wanted to write novels, all the kinds that made me stay up until the wee hours of the morning after telling my parents I was indeed going to sleep.
But, I also decided I was going to be Lois Lane, or maybe April O’Neil. A hard hitting journalist who wrote about truth, justice, the American way (Happy Independence Day, by the way!), the discovery of teen-aged mutant ninja turtles, etc.
I joined the school newspaper and wrote about whatever they needed me to write about. I enjoyed the writing aspect, of course. And I enjoyed interviewing people regarding different subjects because people, as a rule, are interesting. But I realized pretty fast I was never going to succeed in the Lane/O’Neil way of life.
Because I didn’t like intruding. And if there’s one thing Lois Lane and April O’Neil never minded, it was intruding. But I didn’t like the idea of invading anybody’s privacy. There was a lot of tragedy in the country during my high school years, including September 11th, the D.C. Sniper, and a number of local scandals. While much of the news was beneficial in keeping the public in the know, what I remember most are the faces of those who were trying to pick up the pieces after something horrible had happened. Some wanted to be able to talk about things with the world, but others just wanted to be left alone. And I didn’t want to be the person whose job it was to keep asking them questions.
So one more career path was taken off the table.
But writing still remained. Like everyone else who sat watching the news at night, I couldn’t do anything to change the things that had happened. I couldn’t make those feelings of helplessness and uncertainty go away. There was the possibility, however, that if I wrote a good enough story, I could give people a break from the chaos that surrounded them, as was so beautifully discussed in this post. That’s how it had always worked for me, anyway. Nothing gave me a new perspective on the world the way a book did.
When high school ended, I happily hung up my press badge. My notebooks of stories, however, I kept filling; still searching for the characters who would be willing to share their stories with me.