Someone once said to me, “Thanks for writing about the things I was too afraid to say out loud.” Ever since that moment, I’ve strived to be honest and raw with my audience. It’s the only way I can say how I feel without judgement, and gives me the power to articulate my thoughts while avoiding word vomit. The joy I feel from writing doesn’t come from page views or shares; it comes from the power to write something that will resonate with readers.
At the time, I wrote for two student magazines, and it’s safe to say that writing is on my hierarchy of needs as essential for self-fulfillment. However, I wasn’t paid at either publication, and many times my articles didn’t get much readership so I feared I would become the independent movie that yields low ticket sales and the worst rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
I often questioned if the dream of having my byline on a Cosmo article seemed too farfetched. When you write for a magazine, you realize that every single writer is struggling to get someone to read her work. It’s easier to get the barista at Starbucks to write your unique name correctly than for someone to read your article.
With the chances of succeeding as a writer just slightly higher than a meteor hitting the earth, I looked for a paying job that I enjoyed since writing started to feel more like a hobby. I found a job as an assistant preschool teacher, which was ideal given my past experience with kids.
For three years, I was a youth counselor at the Jewish community center in my hometown, and planned activities for second grade girls that usually didn’t go according to plan. During one activity, I instructed the girls on how to draw the four Hebrew letters that went on the wooden dreidels. Before I knew it, I had 12 girls covered in purple paint, running around the art room like mini Tasmanian devils as they danced to the “Harlem Shake,” and it became my own Hanukah miracle. When their parents came to pick them up, they didn’t ask the girls how the day went. Instead they chuckled, looked at me and said, “I can tell you girls had a fun day today.”
But preschool turned out to be a place with no room for “Harlem Shake” flash mobs and face paint. I soon learned that giving kids the chance to paint whatever they wanted wasn’t part of my boss’s plan. I learned that being a preschool teacher’s assistant didn’t involve circle time and teaching kids how to spell their names—but instead yelling their names out loud every five minutes for playing Ninja Mutant Turtles on the playground because it was too violent.
Unlike writing, I couldn’t use my imagination and encourage others to think in a different way. Instead, a preschool teacher assistant’s tasks included washing dishes, sweeping floors, potty training kids and the most ridiculous absurd thing I’ve ever done: washing the caps of the soap bottles in each bathroom. I found myself torn between the dream that gives me a reason to wake up every morning and the job that gave me the resources to live.
But my Plan B didn’t have a chance to become Plan A. One afternoon, my boss took me outside, smiled, looked directly into my eyes and said, “This is no longer a right fit.” When I asked her if there was something I had done, she said, “Not necessarily.” Was I not the right fit to work with kids? Considering my campers called me the best counselor they ever had, I couldn’t understand why I got fired. It’s like when someone suddenly tells you they don’t love you when you thought the relationship was just fine.
So there I was, sitting in my car hysterically crying in broad daylight in a church parking lot listening to “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. I didn’t even pick that song off my playlist, but the radio chose to torment me with the lyric, “The rest is still unwritten.” Was my car speaking to me?
I definitely sensed a pun intended. Indeed, the rest was still unwritten because I still had the opportunity to write articles. Life doesn’t just end when the pen runs out of ink; it leaves room for a new pen to write the story.
On the day I picked up my last check from the preschool, the universe reminded me of my calling. One of the articles I wrote went viral within four hours and reached 7,000 page views and recieved tons of compliments. It was then that the saying, “When one door closes, another one opens,” proved true.
My Internet success reminded me that being a writer is what I really want to do, and I’ll be the right fit for a magazine that needs an honest voice. I’ve yet to reach my dream to write for Cosmopolitan, but I’ll make as many coffees as it takes until I fulfill Plan A.
My dreams aren’t farfetched, just unwritten. If I’d continued to be stubborn and failed to let go of the door that closed on me, I would still be pursuing a door that’s not the right fit for my key. The universe’s plan of me one day becoming a successful writer can’t be implemented if I continue to be stuck behind doors that are meant to locked.