A young author learns that it’s up to you to find out how you got there
Martha spits, “I will stop reading your paper if you write ‘I found myself…’ You can’t find yourself doing anything. You’re just doing it.”
Martha is my writing instructor. She’s a “published” author. She doesn’t know what a Sharpie is, and she doesn’t like my writing. She doesn’t get my writing. She doesn’t really get—or like—me.
Which makes me not really like her either.
But, this gem about Finding Yourself Doing Something Is Impossible has stuck with me. If you read every single thing I’ve written since my senior year of college, professional and personal, I doubt I’ve EVER used the phrase ‘I found myself …” I never found myself in Aspen, Colorado / found myself without a job / found myself single after three years. I moved myself to Aspen, Colorado; I quit my job without another one lined up; we decided to break up.
It makes sense that Martha’s teaching resonated with me: I believe in personal responsibility, and ‘finding yourself’ implies that you didn’t take action to get yourself to that place.
That said, between October and December of this year, I found myself.
I found myself living with my dog in a small room in a bed and breakfast, I found myself thinking I’d move to California but choosing to stay in Aspen instead, I found myself with a strong support network of girlfriends I didn’t realize I had, I found out why I had made the decisions I had, and I found out how to move forward with those decisions.
I found out that sometimes you have to find yourself somewhere to find out how you got there.
I found that it was a million little decisions that led me to where I ended up. I didn’t, couldn’t, have envisioned myself where I landed. But even the surprising experience of waking up and finding myself somewhere wasn’t without responsibility: I worked backward to figure out how I got there.
So maybe I didn’t quite get Martha. It’s okay to find yourself somewhere. But perhaps her point was that it is still up to you to figure out how you got there.
By Lyssa Myska Allen (see also: Praying)