It happens to all of us. We look back at an entire decade of life, and we look at not all the stuff we accomplished, but all the stuff we DIDN’T accomplish. This has happened to me, because for some reason I made a list of various major life decisions throughout the 2010s that I considered, but ultimately did not do.
Some would have completely altered the course of my life, and some would have done relatively little, but I want to list a bunch of them anyway just so you can know what an indecisive and strange person I am:
Joining the military
I got called by recruiters a whole lot in my last couple years of high school, and while I never really considered it, I did at least keep my mind open enough to agree to meet up with a recruiter for… the Marines, maybe? I don’t remember. I don’t remember mostly because we agreed to meet at the local Taco Bell, then the damn guy never showed up. I was forced to eat Taco Bell for breakfast! For breakfast!
Realizing that military recruiters seriously do not care whatsoever about you and just about their quota was a life-changing experience in itself. After that point, I hung up on all military service members who dared call me on the phone and blocked all who somehow got ahold of my cell number to text me. Very much worth it.
Attending art school
I got accepted to a bunch of universities, which was pretty stupid since I was never going to leave Georgia for university (Georgia has a badass full-tuition scholarship, as long as you attend a school in the state). After narrowing it down, I had three options: Georiga State (no), Georgia Southern, and the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). I chose Georgia Southern.
I really, really, really kinda wish I went to SCAD! Not because I didn’t like Georgia Southern’s Writing & Linguistics program; on the contrary, it was excellent, so good I’d actually recommend it to anyone who wants to study to be a professional writer. No, SCAD was something that super called to me because it was an art school filled with dorks and queer kids and weirdo ambitious people who had a dream project and the means to get there. SCAD was a school made for people like me.
Sadly, it cost like $60,000 a year and it was a private school so it didn’t qualify for the full tuition scholarship. Oh well.
Interning as a congressional aide
We actually had a program for this at Georgia Southern, becoming an aide to one of Georgia’s Congressmen or Senators for a semester. I don’t remember the details that much anymore except that I did really look into it. However, that path would have turned me into a career politician for sure and I am very glad I didn’t pursue it.
Vagabonding across the United States
Listen. Kid. This is an idiotic idea for a dumbass kid with notable social anxiety issues. But in the midst of a (mutually) toxic relationship and many identity crises, I had developed a very stupid, very elaborate plan to drop out of college and go traveling the country and making ends meet in my car, maybe with Amazon Mechanical Turk or something. Thank the stars I didn’t go through with it… though I do really like traveling and maybe one day when I have a stable income off writing I may do it for real.
I’m thinking all liberal arts students have fallen into temptation for this. After enough years of the college life, I got the impression that the academia life could honestly be for me. Working on papers and going to conferences, teaching classes I don’t care about to tide me over as I work on the projects I don’t care about… It was honestly a bit appealing, at least until I got the conference life firsthand at AWP 2016. I didn’t really like it. And I didn’t really like the idea of teaching university students. I still became a teacher, though…
Working in an Amazon warehouse
I moved to Seattle for a year and couldn’t find a job for a while. I was running out of money and needed something fast. However, there was one option always there for me if I needed it–Amazon.
Everyone told me Amazon was a terrible choice, that its working conditions were horrible, that the hours were awful, that the commute was far too long. And I trusted those opinions. Trusted them luckily just in time to get a different job interview and land a decent job elsewhere.
The ultimate bullet dodged.
Selling collectibles on Ebay
After I returned from Japan in 2017, I suddenly had this great desire to sell collectibles on Ebay. I love finding weird and rare stuff in obscure places, and I love making money, so this seemed like a good fit.
I tried this for a month and sold some of the games and dumb stuff I got in Japan. The shipping costs knocked out basically all of the profits I made and my dreams failed miserably.
I worked at a movie theater/restaurant combo and started to get really interested in the art of drink mixing. I don’t drink much even to this day, but the actual act of making drinks and serving them is really cool to me. Had I worked at that theater longer, I think I really would have gotten bartending training and eventually gotten the skills needed to do it on my own. Woulda been fun, albeit completely useless to every other pursuit I am folliwng.
Joining a friend’s game company
A friend of mine who works on indie games once offered me a job. Looking back, I think that it was actually a serious offer at the time, but I didn’t consider it. But an actual job as a writer on an indie game? Making actual money? Gosh! (I think it was that last part that killed it–there was no way that an indie game company could afford the amount of money that friend had mentioned. Sadly.)
Teaching in South Florida
I lived in the Miami metro area for two months in 2018, as a NEET. It was pretty fun, and super hot. But as my trip was coming to a close, there was one thing looming over me–I have no money and no future! What was I to do? My aunt, a teacher herself, had suggested I get a teaching certificate and become a high school teacher, especially in South Florida where teachers are honestly a bit needed. Instead, I decdided to write full-time because I was fully convinced that writing was the only path I needed to follow and that I would never make it as a teacher.
(I’m a teacher now)