It's weird how we, as a society, expect everyone to have our lives all figured out by our early twenties. For those of you who've been on one path all your whole life and are content with it, I'm totally jealous, because that is NOT ME. I've always been a bit of a wanderer. Some say I'm unfocused, but a friend recently described me as a free-spirit, so I'm going with that from now on. I'm in the process of writing a book about all the odd jobs I've held, and the variety of weirdness in the work I've done throughout my life surprises even me.
The arts and entertainment industry has beckoned me in many ways throughout the years. As a teenager, I wanted to be a model, but lacked the self-confidence and proximity to a major US city to make that happen. Then, I wanted to be an actress, but Hollywood is a tough place for an insecure 20-year-old girl. I would go on auditions--or even to restaurants--and compare myself to other women my age, knowing that I was always the fattest and ugliest person in the room. I left L.A. beaten down, even less confident than when I arrived. Shortly after moving away from Southern California, during one of my "carpe diem!" moods, I answered an ad looking for a female vocalist and was introduced to a dear friend whom I credit with starting my career as a singer/songwriter. Well, I say career, but mostly I just wrote and recorded my songs in my bedroom. I wasn't doing it for money, but it was validating when a little came trickling in.
After a soul-crushing experience with a cocky producer, I decided to give the music business a little break and just be a mom. About two years in, out of survival mode and in dire need of some sort of artistic outlet, I began my blog, Year31. I'd always kept a journal and enjoyed writing, so a blog seemed like a good fit for me. Blogging led to networking with other bloggers, specifically with film bloggers, which got me to thinking about writing screenplays. I wrote three feature-length screenplays within a year and I was sure that I was going to keep doing that. I wrote, directed, and starred in a short film.
Husband and I talked about moving back to California (we were in Kansas at this time), but then a dream job offer came in for him and we moved to Philadelphia instead. I was a little bummed, but I soldiered on, starting a new blog in the process and trying to come up with a new plan of what I wanted to do with my life.
I decided to write a book and, due to a severe head cold on my writing weekend away, I ended up transcribing my old love letters rather than writing anything original. That's how Dear Rick, Dear Teri was born. I got a rash when I published that, thinking of my parents and other family members reading about my young love life and sexual awakening, but I'm glad I did it, because I got a lot of wonderful messages from people who read it.
In the last two years, I've been writing less but I began painting and making collages again. I'm no DaVinci, but creating art that I can hang on my walls is a great form of therapy for me. In this digital age, people don't work with their hands enough, if you ask me.
At the beginning of this year, I found a job that led me back into acting. Although I can't divulge what that job is, I can tell you that it entails creating aliases and pretending to be someone else a few days a week. I applied to be an extra in a a television pilot that was shooting locally, and I did that for two days before I decided that it was something I'd like to do more. While extra work requires little acting, I find it enjoyable and it's nice to get out of the house and on a set, so I try to do it two or three times a month. Meanwhile, I'm about to start an improv class and submitting for other roles here and there, hoping that if I throw a big enough handful of spaghetti at the wall, one of the noodles will stick (I'm not great with analogies, okay??). I've had some auditions and one great musical opportunity has arisen that may or may not lead to something exciting for me. I've learned not to get my hopes up too high when it comes to this sort of thing, because 90% of the time it doesn't work out as I'd hoped. But I still do hope. A little. Because hope is good.
I still have two or three unfinished screenplays a few unfinished songs, a novel, and the book about my jobs sitting on my hard drive. Sometimes, I'll pull one up and work on it for a bit, chipping away when I have a few moments to myself that don't include motherly duties or work duties or wifely duties. Sometimes, I'll get sad that I'm 34 years old with no one job title, and I'll start to feel like my life has less value than other people's lives. I know that's not true, of course, but that little voice in the back of my head can be mighty convincing when he wants to be.
Today, though, I'm feeling lucky. I'm lucky that I have had the opportunity to try so many different things and make so many different forms of art. I'm lucky that I've been blessed with several artistic talents, even if I've never focused on a single one to nurture. I don't need to be rich and famous, after all, so I'll just continue being a free-spirit and trying whatever new thing strikes my fancy. Unfocused? Let's go with well-rounded.