This post was inspired by the novel The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson. Allie thought she had the perfect husband, until she finds him and another woman in a compromising position in their own apartment. Join From Left to Write on April 1 as we discuss The Idea of Him. Join us for a live chat with Holly on April 3. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
“Are you following what you want or what society wants you to want?” “Go find your own answers. Trust that you can do it.” I look back and know that as a I child, I was blessed with a mother who did not put limits on what I could do or be when I grew up, and with (most) teachers who saw my love of learning and inclination towards creativity as an opportunity and not a burden. When I was five, I remember watching my Momma draw cartoon horse heads in profile. I thought they were absolutely beautiful and asked her to teach me how to do it. I still remember her teaching me to –see- that the eyes don’t look the same from the front as they do from the side. When I was five, if you’d asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d have told you “A Teacher!”. (In fact, that answer didn’t change all the way into adulthood—it’s just that the subject would change.) At seven, I remember curling up on the floor with my Grandma Betty with large rolls of brown paper to make all sorts of things and can still remember the day when seven year old me complained to her that I didn’t have a tan crayon when I wanted to make my Barbie coloring book have brown hair and a tan like me and my Grandma Betty taught me how to mix colors to make the ones I wanted. (In fact, I still love coloring books and crayons.) I was also seven the day I got my first pair of glasses and remember putting them on for the first time. My mother says it broke her heart that my eyes got so huge and I said to her in wonder, “Momma! THIS is what YOU see???” Everything was so crisp and clear! The first time I saw an impressionistic painting I felt an affinity for the painter, because right up to the moment I got my glasses, that was what my world looked like. (Truth in fact, if I take my glasses off, it’s what the world STILL looks like.)
When I reached my senior year of high school, I realized that I needed a teacher and class to help me get any further with art. I had gone as far as I could figure out how to go on my own. But I didn’t want to take the entry level class. I brought all my drawing with me that I’d been doing at home (I didn’t even know this was called a portfolio) and met with the art teacher, Mrs. Hardwick. I asked if I could just skip Art I and take II an III instead—and she let me. And when I grew up and got married and I took a break from art and did the grown up things. The things society wanted me to do. A regular day job. Stay at home Mom. Even being a live in care taker for my Grandmother in Law. But it didn’t make me happy (Don’t get me wrong, I adored being home with my boys when they were little…but all conversations can’t be fulfilling when they’re between you and a five year old and two year old, ya know?) and so I called Uncle and went back to school, terrified that I wouldn’t remember how to make art. And when I started it was with full intention of becoming an art teacher. I graduated college a year ago in December, absolutely intent on going to graduate school so that I would be able to teach art in college… but in this past year, I’ve gotten to make all sorts of new art and found a grown up day job that I adore. And I –like- where I am right now. (My husband has long since come to accept that I am a gut feeling kind of girl. Every job I’ve ever taken, I took because it –felt- right. And left for the same reason—I wasn’t supposed to be there anymore.)
I think I've found a great balance between what society wants me to do--and what -I- want to do. Here. Now. I'm happy. My family is happy.
And at the end of the day, that's the answer that matters.