As I reflect on my five year blog anniversary, I think about the risks I took to get here. My biggest risk was spending my last 100 dollars. But, as I look back, it wasn’t a risk at all, it was an investment.
Where do I even start my story? Well, it all starts with Ms. G., my fourth grade teacher. You remember her right? The teacher who called my mom to tell her I read too much. Back then, I not only liked to read, but I also enjoyed writing, drawing, and photography, but they were secret hobbies. But, maybe not so much a secret. A family friend who was an artist saw my drawings and photography and decided to submit my work to a contest. I actually won and even was invited to showcase my photography and drawings at the public library. At first I was mad and embarrassed! That creative side was my secret, my outlet for my feelings, but my competitive and spotlight side of my personality, loved the feeling of winning prizes. So, I continued to write, draw, and take photos.
For the longest, I had a story I wanted to share, it had been shimmering for awhile, and when Ms. G. announced we would be writing a creative essay for a class assignment, I boiled over in excitement. I finally had a chance to share the story. It was story about a Native American girl who was living on Long Island. In order for her to save her family from invaders, she needed to cross the Long Island Sound and get help from a neighboring tribe. She was brave, adventurous, and a leader; all that I wanted to see in myself.
All weekend, I sat at the dining room table, where my mother under her careful gaze made sure I completed all my work before I went out to play. Finally, I had to hand in my story to Ms. G. I was excited as I waited for my grade, I was sure I was going to get an A+. I remember my mother telling my Uncle that when he visited the following week, I would have to read my story to him. I was so happy, it would be my first story that I shared with the world.
When I finally got my grade back, Ms. G. gave me a ‘B-‘ and wrote something along the lines of ‘this story has many issues and I think it has been plagiarized.’ My mother was furious. She could not believe that Ms. G. would think such a thing. She with her own eyes watched me write the essay. Ms. G. told my mother that it was too advanced of a story line for fourth grader, so that is made her think I did not make up the story and that I had help from my mother. I was so angry and hurt. When my Uncle came to visit and asked me to read the story, I told him I couldn’t find it, but really, I threw it away. Something I regret now looking back. From that moment on, my excitement for creative writing disappeared and I never again listened to the inspiration my muse sent.
Unless it was school related, I never wrote another creative piece of writing for myself until February 13, 2009. It was the day before Valentine’s Day, I was bored and for whatever reason decided to write a poem about love. And it was like the floodgates opened. I wrote another three poems and then I realized my friends had kept asking me to update them about my life in Miami. So, I thought the easiest way to keep all my friends updated on my life would be to start a blog. So, I posted the four poems and shared a story about something that had happened to me in the post office.
After I started my third blog and ditched the first two, I was six months unemployed and all left from my savings was 150 dollars. Around that time is when that feeling returned. That same feeling I felt when I had the idea for my story in fourth grade. I tried to ignore it, but it persisted. And finally, when I received an advertisement for a creative writing course at a local college, I knew I could no longer ignore the signs. I needed to write again and I needed to learn how to write beyond narratives and blog posts.
The course was 100 dollars and I had only 150 dollars in my bank account. I weighed my options, decided to take a gamble, and I paid for the class. I would love to tell you I did it skipping, dancing, and singing, but no, my heart was racing for several minutes after I paid. I felt irresponsible. I only had 150 dollars left to my name and I spent 100 of it on something that was not a life necessity.
I was nervous up until the first day of class, but I left relaxed. I knew in my heart it was the right decision. If I wanted to pursue writing beyond academic writing, I needed to learn more about creative writing. Spending that 100 dollars was the best decision and was a catalyst for all sorts of good fortune. Shortly after registering for the class, I ended up getting a couple of babysitting gigs and I made that 100 dollars back in less than seven hours. I also ended up meeting great people.
The women from that creative class I am still friends with today and we met every other week for over three years to share our writing and just talk about our lives (they still meet today). They encouraged me to keep on pushing when I was unemployed, they encouraged me to pursue my book ideas, they encouraged me when I was applying to graduate programs, and they still encourage me today.
Since I was unemployed, I decided to spend my free time volunteering for a small farm summit that was going to take place on Long Island. Everyone was introducing themselves and stating what they did for a living. I didn’t want to say I was unemployed and babysitting for side money. So I said I was a community member and a writer. Based on that introduction, I met my future supervisor, who told me that he loved I said I was a writer and not many people who are in academia feel they are writers. From that conversation he told me to meet him for coffee at his office. From there, I got hired and worked at the university for two years before starting school this past August.
It may all seem unrelated, but that 100 dollars really took me from blog number one to this current and final home of blog number five. There have been ups and downs and many restarts. But before I start writing a novel, I will stop here. My next couple of blog posts, will be about those ups and down and those many restarts.
If you are considering taking a risk, know that sometimes risks are more of an investment; you never know where down the rabbit hole it will lead you. Try it. It is like an adrenaline rush and who knows maybe like me, you will spend your last 100 dollars and be okay with it.
An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.
Photo Credit: 401 (k) 2012