In this country, the United States, and perhaps many others, it is easy to believe that you will always belong to the socio-economic group your parents belong to. Work hard, stay focused, take advantage of the right opportunities, and the promised land is yours.
Raise your hand if you were taught this.
This is thinking I would like to unlearn. I don’t know how to unlearn it yet, but it is one of my missions.
Here is an example of why I think this is wrong thinking. When I was in school, from elementary all the way through college, I was in class with the elite kids. I was a great test taker. I learned new material quickly. I wasn’t afraid to say what I thought. But I never made an attempt to socialize with the elite kids. Many of them are doing really well right now, so bless them and their success. But why did I never network with or befriend these people? Most of them were pleasant, not too full of themselves, and they were just as clueless about the world as I was.
What I have come to realize recently, in writing this third novel, is that I didn’t believe I was in their class. I grew up believing in a caste system and didn’t even realize I was believing it. My friends all had working class dads, like mine. My friends’ moms were mostly stay-at-home moms like mine. My friends’ parents drove middle class cars, like mine did. Most of my friends grew up to be teachers, middle managers, and military professionals. All of those are great professions. But that kind of career was never my goal. I never wanted to be responsible for the destinies of other people.
But there is something in my head that says a career as a creative professional, making great money, signing books at book stores, and doing the interview circuit is something that happens to other people. Like winning the lottery.
Where do these thoughts come from and why can’t they go harass someone else for a change?
I think part of the challenge is about understanding the terms Work Hard and Stay Focused and Take Advantage. I think these three terms mean completely different things to different socio-economic groups.
When I figure out what they mean for creative professionals I’ll let you know.