It's the 1st of June. On the 11th, I'll be 25. That's a big deal to me.
Twenty-five has always been my "big number." I'm not sure why, but that was the number I had in my head that signified proper adulthood. It was the age at which I assumed I would emerge, fully formed, as a brilliant, capable and functional member of society, dutifully trekking along the path to my dreams.
But.... I think I'm starting to realize I don't actually know what my dreams are anymore.
Last week, completely by chance, I stumbled upon the link to the new podcast Millennial by Megan Tan. As of right now, there are four episodes available and I swallowed them whole. In a little over an hour, Tan takes you from her graduation to the transition to post grad millennial life, to realizing that her childhood was in fact over, to moving in with her boyfriend, to her job as a waitress, to her decision to start the podcast, to the lethargy of feeling stuck, to the realization that the only way to get stuff done is to got out and do it.
In episode #2, Living On The Line, Tan discusses the need to find the line that takes you to where you want to be in life and stick to it; but before you can follow your line, you have to define it. That really resonated with me. It made me think of something that I always say when conversations about women "having it all" come up: You get to define what "all" means to you. And then you get to go get it. I have to define my line.
When I started college, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be a fashion and celebrity photographer, routinely published in all the great magazines. I wanted to write and see my words printed on glossy paper and my name in the masthead. I wanted to work in magazines. I was clear on that. It was all I wanted in the world, and while I was in college, I took measurable steps towards achieving it.
Now I'm not so sure.
Working in magazines is still something that I desperately want. When I first got back, I sent out resumés to all the local magazines, I offered to intern for free and I started freelancing. I did everything I could think of to try to jumpstart my glossy paper dreams. But after a couple years of stagnating and realizing that there simply wasn't a huge fashion market in Trinidad, I started to become disillusioned. I started thinking that I'd never have the chance to see my name printed on a masthead, and I started slowly chipping away at my dreams; diminishing my expectations for myself.
Now I'm nearly 25. I'm almost supposed to be a brilliant, dazzling magazine editor for whom the novelty of a masthead has worn off. But I'm not. And I've come to terms with the fact that the plan I thought I had for myself isn't what I'm going to get in this life. But it doesn't mean that my dreams aren't achievable. It just means I have to redefine my line.
Over the last two years I've managed to gather a little following online for my writing and essays on feminism. I'm not amazing and I'm certainly no authority on anything but my own experience, but I know enough to write confidently about the things I care about and have people listen. I've had my work published in a few places that I admire. I was invited to speak at a conference (though sadly I had to turn it down). I've made some strides. Not huge strides. Not amazing strides. But strides that tell me that I'm going somewhere, even if I hadn't yet figured out where that was. After listening to the podcast, I think I know where I'm going now, and I want to redefine my line.
My professional goal is to be a feminist writer and critic. I want to be paid to discuss and dissect pop culture and media from a feminist perspective. I do it here on this blog all the time, and it turns out, I don't suck at it. I want my words to mean something and I want to use them to help effect change. Maybe someday I'll write a book. Who knows?
My line is writing. As much as I love photography and plan to continue shooting, writing is what I truly feel compelled to do. So now that I've defined my line, I can make a plan. This month I'm going to make it a priority to start pitching and to get paid for publishing at least one piece. I'm going to submit to publications where I think my voice would be a good fit. And I'm going to apply to the Buzzfeed Writer's Fellowship. I'm going to start taking measurable steps to get to where I want to be.
I think I've found my line.