When I was in high school, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be “when I grew up”. Too many things interested me but none of them interested me enough to want to get a loan and spend four plus years in university to do over all of the others. Artist, geologist, archaeologist, writer, police officer, veterinarian, singer, recording engineer, astronomer, interpreter, and more cycled through my thoughts throughout high school.
In, oh, about 1980, when I was in grade 12, my school became one of the first schools to make use of a career exploration software called Choices, delivered via a line printer over a phone connection to the software company’s offices. It offered (and I suppose still does since, technically, it is still being produced) personality tests and interest inventories to help you determine what occupations suited your interests. Mine always came out heavily in favour of creative occupations: writing, choreography, dancing, singing, music, etc. Unfortunately, my entire high school course plan was heavily laden with science classes (even though I was a slacker, I didn’t want to completely rule out a future decision to go on to uni). One creative course and one theatre course over my entire high school career. No art courses. No physical courses (other than the acting one). No real creativity expected in any of them beyond the two mentioned, which I took in grade 10. How does one then segue into an artistic career? The answer is you don’t. Not without a lot more drive than I possessed at the time. My father and I took a tour of the local arts college but I was so intimidated by the application process, which required a portfolio, that I backed down.
So, after graduation, instead of going on to uni or college, I worked — as a waitress, a job I was absolutely horrible at, and as a sales clerk. After a year of “finding myself”, I decided I needed some skills and a hope of a better job. I completed a one-year secretarial course only to discover that I suck at being a secretary almost as much as I do as a waitress…and a secretary’s salary truly sucked in those days. Probably still does. So I enrolled in a two-year programming course offered by the same college. I figured that it made sense to pick something moderately interesting, something with a good future outlook. I loved programming — not maintenance programming, which is just factory work, but actually creating from scratch.
No one told us that COBOL programming jobs were hard to come by for someone with no experience and, after graduation, I ended up in computer operations. For over a decade. It’s a time period that also included The Relationship and its aftermath so, in my head, they coexist in the same memories. While the relationship lived and while the pathos that accompanied its breakup lived, I still painted, I still wrote, I still played music. I still felt. When I stopped feeling, somewhere around 1990, I began the process of stopping almost all creative pursuits and almost all broad-spectrum social interaction — I can sustain short bursts but nothing longer. Today I realized that I miss that part of me, the part of my spirit that was suffused with creativity and life, more than I’d realized. The part of me that danced with my friends down the street, blocking traffic, after watching “Footloose”. (Well, no, probably not that, unless I find new friends — they’re all married, with and without kids, and probably far too proper and upstanding to do that now.) And I think I’d like to try to find it again. The creativity and the life, both.
I’m just not sure where to start.