I’m standing in line for coffee at Uni. I’m completely zoned out and it takes a moment for me to realise the guy behind me is trying to start a conversation.
“Lines are always so long here hey?”
“Waiting for my coffee takes up pretty much my whole smoko time.”
“Oh, that’s no good,” realising he’s a tradie, not a student. I’ll be honest enough to admit that my interest was sparked at this point. What can I say? Tradies get the ladies.
“So what do you do?” he asked, relentlessly trying to keep the conversation alive.
I laughed because I hate that question at the moment. (I mean, what DO I do?)
“I hate that question. I don’t really DO anything.”
“I saw you walk in to the post office with a bunch of boxes so I thought you must be bulk selling on eBay or something. But I figure you’re studying something since you’re at Uni?”
I then did my awkward, uncomfortable laugh that saves itself for new people or wrong situations.
“Oh, duh. I’m doing a bachelor of writing.”
It was my turn to order my coffee, so conversation halted and my social anxiety riddled self was relieved. I ordered my small flat white and stumbled over giving the change. As I waited, I pulled my phone out to “reply” to “messages” — aka. attempt to shut down conversation.
“So what kind of writer do you want to be? Is it like journalism?”
“Well nah cause that’s it’s own degree. I’m majoring in creative writing so end goal is ideally an author.”
“Good with words then?”
“I like to think so.”
My name was called (incorrectly — “Rachkel” I mean??) as my coffee was ready. I dawdled, admittedly enjoying the attention a little.
“I wouldn’t want to fall in love with a writer.”
I stood there, my lips half pursed and my coffee halfway to my mouth, and just stared at him. Like what the fuck do you reply to that?
“I mean like no offence, it’s just that everything you say or do would live on forever because they’d use it…”
At this point, I couldn’t walk away. Naturally, I got defensive.
“It’s not like they write exactly what you say all the time. And they’re usually covered up by fictional characters.”
“Yeah but I just couldn’t do it. Imagine if I broke your heart.”
“Well no one’s asking you to.”
I would like to say that I walked off gracefully into the sunset, flicking my hair behind my back and making him regret what he said. But I actually walked the wrong way to where I needed to go so I did an awkward turn-dance-thing, it was 11am so no sunset in sight, and my hair’s too fucking short to flick. But you get the gist.
It was weird. I walked to class, going over the conversation in my head; getting angrier each step. Did he change his mind about me because of my career choice?
Did I not do the same thing, being more interested when I learned he was a tradie?
Why do we question other people’s life choices? Base our judgements on what they choose to do to make their own living?
In the end, you questioning my life choices is a sad reflection of you questioning your own. You wouldn’t want to love me because you’re scared of your shitty choices making it on paper. You don’t trust yourself enough for you to love someone who could use it as leverage. Well, congratulations dude; you made it even though you didn’t want to.
It’s not like I don’t know that being a writer, a novelist, any sort of creative career, is somewhat less important in society than say a teacher, doctor, even a fucking concreter.
I was on my way to being something “important.” Important to who?
You. Important to you, and every other person who feels the need to weigh in on everyone’s lives but their own. People who think everyone needs to do a “realistic” job. I know teachers who are destined to be teachers, and can’t wait to get to school every day. I know bricklayers who would choose bricklaying as their career if they had to do it over again. I know speech pathologists who thrive on helping children become better learners, better selves.
Thank fuck for them.
I’m not one of them, nor do I need to be, nor do they ask me to be.
It’s magic, you know. This life. It’s magic how you don’t really need to do what everyone’s telling you to do.
It’s magic how you don’t have to follow society’s expectations. And it’s especially magic when you can say, “Fuck you all. I’m doing what I want to do.”
That’s when you live your most fulfilled life.