I’m pretty sure I’m having a mid-life crisis. Not in the traditional “get a bad ankle tattoo and dye my hair blonde” sense…but it’s dangerously close.
Yesterday, I had a rare afternoon off. I used that time to meet with a friend and fellow comic to discuss comedy, the meaning of life and everything in between. For an hour and a half, I quieted the clamorous roar of thoughts I had carried in with me. “Did I send that email to ____? Yeah, I think I did. Crap, what about that meeting tomorrow? Do I have everything? Oh shit, I have to do laundry tonight for my trip this weekend. I should have enough time. I need to pack because I won’t have time. Ugh, I’m getting in so late on Sunday. I should have taken Monday off. I’m not going to get any sleep….”
As I was getting ready to leave, I looked to my left and caught the eye of familiar looking woman. I knew her — she was a former coworker. Outwardly, I flashed a smile and waved. Inwardly, I spiraled into panic mode. No, it wasn’t because I didn’t like her — she was a very nice woman. My panic was because I knew the dreaded question would be asked: “So, what are you doing now?”
What am I doing now?
“Hey! Oh my god, so good to see you! I thought that was you!”
“Yup, it’s me….”
“How have you been?? It’s been years!”
“I’m doing pretty well….you know…”
“So what are you doing now?”
“Um, well, I’m working at ______”
What did I want to say? “I’m a writer. I’m performing stand-up comedy. I have a blog and started writing on Huffington Post!” What did I actually say? I droned on about my “normal” job (I refuse to regurgitate those details to you). There was no passion behind what I was saying. My face didn’t light up. I could barely push the words past my mouth.
I looked at my friend who was doing everything to avoid eye contact. She grabbed her phone, mumbled something and practically ran outside. Watching my friend escape this conversation was like Tom Hanks watching Wilson float off in Castaway. Ten minutes before, I was talking with passion about writing, comedy. I was…happy. Now, this.
Why did this happen? Here’s why — my 24/7 internal critic told me, “Don’t you dare say those lies. You’re not a writer. You’re not a comic. You’re a woman who has a real job and does those things for fun. Those are hobbies. Stop being ridiculous.” We talked a few more minutes, then it was over. My friend came back, apologizing for leaving, but she couldn’t listen to that conversation. I understood — I didn’t want to listen to it either.
I thought I was done with major changes in my life, but, once again — wrong. I’m going to stop listening to that horrible critic, telling me I can’t somehow pursue a writing career, or be a comic. I never followed my passion for writing in college because I didn’t think I could make a living. I was stupid and wasted time (and a lot of money). I graduated with a degree in mediocrity.
Will I make it as a writer? I don’t know, but I have to try. Instead of treating it as a hobby, I need to treat it like a part-time job. After work, I write. I have free time? Write. Recently, I’ve had amazing opportunities and I’m taking them. I’m not going to continue watching Wilson float away — it’s time I start swimming.