2013 has left me with dark circles. I realize this as I am in the mirror, dabbing on concealer.
It is a Saturday. From the bathroom, I can hear the music from the living room. Our apartment is small, and we are able to listen to music throughout the house without turning up the music so loud the neighbors complain. It is the first time since our move in October that I have felt the sudden, irresistible urge to write.
It wasn’t until 2011, the year my father died, that I embarked on my writing career. It’s not a promising field, but I’ve been lucky enough to find work over the past three years. Newspapers across the country are struggling to stay in business, leaving entry-level writers little option but to write commercially (as I do now). In August of this year, shortly after creating this blog, I was laid-off from my job as a staff writer and content analyst.
It was a heavy blow to my self-esteem. In the three months I was unemployed, I began to seriously question my professional value. From there, I began questioning my self-worth in every facet. I didn’t have a job, but I had the enormous responsibility of paying for a wedding. My portfolio was decent, but not outstanding. No one was calling me back for an interview, and I felt out of place and constantly overwhelmed in Houston.
I began to question whether I should be a writer at all. I could be a teacher or a marketer. I could go back to school and become a professional in a more practical field. But even when employing all of the most logical arguments, the truth remained that writing was my strongest skill. It was what I had studied in college, and what I had dreamed about as a child. I am most proud of myself as a writer and for the work I’ve produced, but I’m not as good as I would like to be. I know I can be better.
That’s the biggest lesson I learned during my unemployment, “You’re good, but you could be better.”
Heartbreak and promises of new adventures have always been the pegs I twist my strings around. I’ve often found myself determined to start over, to forget the past by building an entirely new future in a new direction. My first instinct is to say I’m too old to start over again, but I think it’s more accurate to say that I’ve finally committed to a direction. It’s the path that started with a childhood dream, but it’s proving to be a hard dream to follow.
The dark circles below my eyes are my hard-earned stamps of stress, bruised by the half-mooned hooves of anxiety’s war horse. Stress has driven me to my breaking point more than once this year, as I’ve grappled with wedding plans and loneliness and professional rejection. But luckily, instead of despair, I’ve finally found peace. I’ve already come so far on this journey, and I have the distinct feeling that something wonderful is just ahead. Even if the road is hard, I can’t turn back quite yet.
The scent of a new adventure is in the air.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!
Any suggestions for a concealer? Lawd knows I need it!
Blair Casey is an amateur hiker, perpetual note scribbler and news junkie. She lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with her husband and two cats.