What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’ve always struggled with making decisions. Is it nature or nurture? Black or white? Free will or destiny?

Over time, I’ve realized that nothing is always black or white. Yes, some nights it’s so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. And some days, the sun is so bright you can’t see for the yellow spots in your eyes.

We’re always looking for answers … and we want those answers to be guarantees. We seek the absolute, because it makes us feel more secure. In reality, life is more often grey than it is black and white.

From the time I was in fourth grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. By the time I reached high school, my parents and just about everyone I knew told me that was an unrealistic dream. After all, everyone knows writers can’t support themselves with their writing.

Being a practical person when I’m not dreaming, I decided to change my mind about what to be when I grew up. Being a teacher of special needs students became my goal. All during high school, I traded study hall for volunteering in the classes with kids who had down syndrome and other developmental handicaps.

Fast forward through dropping out of college, getting married, having 3 kids, establishing my own business, getting divorced, establishing two more businesses, doing the marriage/divorce thing again, and having several other adventures. I am now officially all grown up and facing retirement age in a few short years.

Remember what I wanted to be when I grew up? First choice: a writer. Second choice: a teacher. Well, what I’m doing is writing and teaching because I AM both a writer and a teacher.

When I was young, I saw things in black and white. I could either be a writer OR a teacher. I could only write certain types of words or teach certain types of children.

No matter what life threw at me, I continued writing. Most of the time, I didn’t consider myself a writer because I wasn’t writing bestselling novels. And I didn’t consider myself a real teacher because I didn’t have a college degree.

Now that my hair is turning grey, and I’ve come to like and accept the color, I can see clearly that I’m doing exactly what I was meant to do and I have always been a writer (and teacher). For a long time, I let the different shades of other people’s opinions color my view of myself.

Don’t do that. Be who you are. Paint your own story and don’t pay attention to the lines.