This weekend, I will be attending my 30th high school reunion. I missed the 25th (not an accident), but a number of my old classmates discovered me on Facebook and it looks like I will have people to talk to. I find this very odd, since I barely remember some of them, but they seem to remember me.
Honestly, I'd hoped to have more trappings of success by this time. Oh, not a Lexus or a $500 outfit, but results of lifetime endeavors. A Master's, perhaps, or a Ph.D. The subject matter would be less important than the magical acronyms.
You see, I was one of those children cursed with being 'smart'. Usually, being smart makes my life easier. Most of my remarkably stupid decisions have been made based on emotions, not ignorance or an inability to draw conclusions. Most remarkably stupid decisions are made based on emotions, but I've saved myself from investing in silver or mixing Clorox and ammonia. Doing my day job is easier because I love information and learn new things quickly.
It's the expectations of being 'smart' that I must live down. When I graduated from high school, I visualized myself getting a degree in engineering and doing something cool like designing space shuttles. I would get a good-paying job and acquire the respect of my peers. Most importantly, I would write books. Lots of them. Probably science fiction, since that's where my experience would lie.
It didn't pan out that way. I realized, within a short time, that hard science drove me nuts. Not only was it hair-pulling difficult (even for someone who got a 33 in science on the ACT), I didn't find it especially interesting. I tried genetics for a while (thank you, X-Men), but came to the conclusion that I enjoyed reading science fiction more than doing actual science. Instead, I got a degree in journalism with a minor in psychology, since that was the subject I took more consistently than any other.
So... I just wrote lots of books then, correct? No. Despite the pressure from my internal sense of 'destiny', I avoided it like the plague. Writing is so important to my self-definition that I didn't seriously try fiction until I was nearly thirty. Writing fiction makes me want to Run Screaming Into the Night (tm). I edited two Pagan newsletters and was a credentialed blogger for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, so it's not expository writing that gives me trouble. It's fiction, my putative raison d'etre.
At least I have a manuscript now. I haven't sold it yet, but actually writing a book is a major victory in my... er, book. I have a few short story credits to my name.
I know I did better than some of my fellow grads. I'm employed, I have a house, and I've stayed out of prison. Right now, though, I feel like my biggest success was marrying well.