Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference...
Our theme for December is "Been there, done that and don’t/do want to do it again", which can translate as regrets. Often we make choices based on fear. Often we're influenced by others--that's often called peer pressure, but in my regard, those influences are usually from authority figures. Less so now, more so when I was a floundering teen or twenty-something.
Early in college, I was influenced by an authority figure to reject a career in architecture for a major in art. This was not a disastrous choice but a bad one--fact is, I can't draw a straight line without a ruler or a circle without a compass. I sincerely do regret that decision. I still love old buildings and while I am fond of art, find myself drawn to decorative arts rather than fine arts. Paintings and sculptures are nice, but don't suck away my breath like a magnificent cathedral or well-made desk.
Later, I went to law school. Why? Sheer fear. I had graduated with an art major but without the slightest idea what to do with myself, and because I was interested in politics, had earned a master's in political science. Again, no idea what to do with it. Had my head been screwed on straight, and had there been a friendlier atmosphere in DC (the president was Reagan, I believe) I would have gone to DC and taken a job--any job--in the State Department and worked my way up. Who knows--by now I may have become an ambassador or even Secretary of State, though I doubt that based on my big mouth (excuse me, outspokenness). That my parents offered me an all-expenses-paid trip through law school made my decision easier.
I hated law school and loathed practicing law even more. But when I was about 46, a friend persuaded me to take a class called "Writing for Publication," which was about writing professionally for magazines and periodicals. I learned a lot, but the most surprising revelation was that every publisher promulgates submission guidelines. Until then, I had thought that writers just wrote whatever struck their creative fancy, and then found a publisher to buy the work. Now, with so many publication options available, that's more true than it was in the 1990s. Then, one wrote to a set of requirements.
This was a total eye-opener to me. Also enlightening was the information that over a thousand romance novels were published annually (Again, that's no longer the case. The market has exploded, mostly with indie-published works). But at the time, I said to myself, "Hey, I bet I could do that too." At age 46, I was no longer the prisoner of fear.
Youth indeed is wasted on the young.