I live in Dayton, Ohio, and in case you’re as geographically challenged as I am, let me tell you that it is pretty landlocked. Sure, there’s a river about 60 miles south of here, but you have to go pretty far up north to hit anything resembling a beach. So, you can understand why I thought it was a little weird when I started seeing a seagull hanging around a pond outside of the local Kroger. It got even more weird when I realized that not only had the seagull hung around, she had come back year after year.
I have to admit, I became a little fascinated with my friend, the seagull. What was she doing here and how was she surviving without fish to catch and sea water and beach fun? I even Googled what seagulls ate, just to find out how she was surviving (long story short – seagulls can pretty much eat anything). Part of my fascination was due to the fact that if I had to choose between Dayton and the beach, I would definitely choose the beach! But part of my fascination, I realized, was also about how this bird was able to adapt in such a foreign environment without any other seagulls around for support. What was bringing this bird back, again and again, to a pond in Dayton, when it could be doing her thing at the seaside with all the other seagulls?
I’ve done a lot of thinking lately about myself, too. I was in school and realized I didn’t really want to do what I was going to school for. And so here I was, at 37 years old, trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Coincidentally, I was taking a career counseling course at the time, and I realized that I had kept choosing careers that fell in line with my abilities, but not my interests. I was doing the stuff everyone was telling me I could do, but not what I really wanted to do. Because what I really wanted to do was scary – I wanted to write. Don’t get me wrong, I write every day, but I really wanted to write as a career. And it’s scary because so many people don’t make it as writers. It means I’ll probably have to take other jobs to pay the bills while I chip away at my writing. It means I might not have health insurance, it means my savings might remain the very pathetic number it is right now.
But I keep thinking about that seagull. How she went against the pack. She didn’t love her life at the beach, for whatever reason. And she made a change. It was probably a big, scary change at the time. I’m guessing the geese that are always at that pond probably made it hard for her. But she keeps coming back, year after year. She has adapted and she has persevered.
And I will, too. I’m going to make this change, scary as it is, and even though I may never be a full-blown success, I know I’ll be doing what I love.
Taylor Mitchell lives in Dayton, Ohio. She can be found expanding her horizons at www.pickygal.com.