downward shot of shoes with two arrows pointing in different directions

Image via Jon Tyson on Unsplash

At four years old, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was in kindergarten—barely able to leave my mom’s side for five minutes without crying. 

But somehow, they wanted me to choose what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? 

I dressed up as a cop on Career Day. If you know me, that’s probably hilarious. I think the only reason I chose to be a cop was so I could handcuff myself to Logan, my kindergarten crush. My teacher was not pleased and put me in a 10-minute timeout. 

Other kids dressed up as ballerinas, firefighters, doctors—some were even farm animals. I particularly enjoyed the animal costumes. Who wouldn’t want to be a cow? Floppy ears, a tail, and food readily available at your feet. Straight heaven. 

From that moment onward, I was bombarded with the question: 

What do you want to do with your life? 

Little did I know how hard it would be to answer. 

I’ve always been imaginative and weirdly obsessed with other people’s lives. Not in a creepy way, just in the way that I was curious about why people do the things they do. For example, why do people kill each other? Why are we exploiting children in third world countries? Just normal thoughts for a 10-year-old.

I channeled this intrigue into writing stories and creating worlds where these things didn’t happen. I excelled in my English classes and was always applauded for my ability to put my imagination on paper. 

But writing wasn’t a career. Or so I was made to believe. 

My mom, supportive as she was, was a stickler for practicalism. 

Writing was something you did on your own in a dark room with tears spilling on the pages. It was dramatically falling to the floor crying, Kelly Clarkson on the boombox, crossing my crush’s name out of my diary. 

What I’m saying is that being a writer was unrealistic in my world. 

Success was defined early on in my life through my mom’s actions. She had a traditional education—she went to university straight out of high school and got a degree that guaranteed her a career as a lab tech and a big pension. 

My mom is smart. Like, science-and-math smart. So when her daughter had to add and subtract using her fingers, she was not impressed. You can imagine what it was like having her help me with my math homework. 

“Why don’t you get it? It’s easy,” she’d say. 

But it wasn’t easy for me. I took after my dad in that sense. He’s a musician and wrote songs my entire childhood. While my mom considered writing “fluffy,” my dad always encouraged me to tap into my more creative side. 

But as a child of divorce, I worshiped my mom. Her career gave me and my brother a stable upbringing.

I associated success with stability. A stable career, income, and—hopefully—life. Everything I did from kindergarten to my first few years of university centered around this idea. 

I must take all the right steps. 

That meant adhering to perfection in my academic life. I took all the right courses in high school to give me ‘options’ in university, and my marks were high. 

The direction of my life was laid out for me: graduate with a practical university degree, get a job in said degree, find a man that doesn’t annoy me too much, and have two and a half kids. 

Done deal. 

But not everything in life goes as planned. Especially when there’s an insistent voice in the back of your head screaming, this isn’t what you want

I ignored the voice. After graduating high school in 2016, I hid my writing in my journal and began my Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree at VIU that fall. Four years later, I would have a guaranteed job as a social worker.

By the end of second year, I resented my education. 

It was when I first watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that I changed my entire life and dropped out of school.

Just kidding. 

But I did drop out and go through a year of ‘finding myself.’ I did what every 20-something girl would do: go vegan and complete a month-long yoga teacher training in Ecuador. 

That year, I journaled heavily. Journaling offered me an escape route from life. Writing words on paper provided a healing space that I couldn’t find anywhere else. It was a tangible thing where I could put all of my chaos. 

There was the voice again saying, you should do something with these words. And I sort of did. 

I started a blog. 

Then, I deleted said blog. 

Imposter syndrome is my worst enemy. Even today. It’s an all-encompassing fear that I don’t deserve to publish my writing and that nothing I write is good enough. This led to me never keeping words on a public platform. 

So I journaled on. The words for my eyes only. 

It wasn’t until I was teaching 15 yoga classes a week, severely in need of a hot dog, and hating my life that I decided it was time to go back to school. 

For business. 

I’m laughing writing this because numbers are not and never were my thing. As I said before, I can’t do basic calculations in my head. I need a calculator for Cribbage. 

The only reason I passed grade 12 pre-calc was because I dated my math teacher. 

Kidding, again. 

But the decision to enroll in the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program came from my parents, societal pressure to get my life together by 24, and the desperate need to reclaim some stability I lost as a yoga teacher. Which was a hectic schedule with minimal pay. 

My mom said that a major in Human Resource Management (gosh, that sounds boring) would check all the boxes. 

So, that’s what I did. I worked my butt off. I tried to prove to myself that succeeding in this BBA major was the only way I’d end up happy in life. It was the only way my mom would be proud of me. I created unrelenting expectations that could only be solved by passing Accounting 100. 

Then COVID happened.

That meant another mission to find myself. I dropped out of school, moved to a basement suite in Vancouver with no windows, and became an Earl’s girl.

But that’s a story for another time. 

I returned to the BBA program in fall 2021 to finish my degree. But this time, something had shifted. 

I had hit rock bottom. It led me to move back to Vancouver Island in the course of one afternoon, and completely reevaluate what I wanted in life. 

I was still hooked into the idea that business meant success, but I was craving a creative outlet that would force me to share my ideas. 

So I registered for CREW 100, the introductory journalism course. 

Now, this may seem sudden. But here’s a couple segments of my journal from when I was in the business program: 

I have this feeling that I’m doing good, but a huge part of my contentment is missing and I don’t know how to find it anymore. 

I know I don’t like Business and HR. The jobs my prof listed make me nauseous. I know I don’t want to work a 9-5 job. But I have deep roots in the traditional mindset that won’t let go. 

So I decided to dip my toes in the pool (is that a saying?) and take a course that actually made me excited and not want to puke. I apologize if you’re a business student and like it. 

My parents were okay with it. They didn’t banish me from their house or anything. But my mom was wary. 

“Do you really want to make a hobby your career?” she asked. 

I wasn’t at that point yet, but I was curious about the potential my writing could hold. And I was aching to get back to the creativity I had as a kid. 

Of course, I loved CREW 100. I was back to writing stories my inner child could only dream of. I was using my own personal narratives (something I’d write in my journal) and connecting them to cultural issues, systemic imbalances, and mental health. 

CREW 100 was a way for me to create a space of relatability, something I craved as a kid.

Not to toot my own horn, but I was pretty good at it. I quickly found my own style of journalism and ran with it. 

I ran so far that at the end of the semester I submitted an opinion piece on student burnout to The Vancouver Sun. If only I could insert a photo of my face when they emailed me back and said they wanted to publish it. Picture someone almost crying but trying to smile at the same time. 

And while I’ll never admit this in person (unless cornered), it gave me that validation I needed to keep pursuing journalism courses. I ended up taking CREW 200 the next semester and guess what? Got published in The Sun again. No, I did not bribe them. 

At this point, I was still a Business major. But I was confused about my future. Maybe I’d minor in Journalism and keep my major. I thought about dropping out again (typical Megan). 

I also had this teeny tiny thought about switching to the Creative Writing program.

That thought carried a lot of internal conflict. It took more journaling, meditating, and therapy to even warm up to the idea of approaching my mom with this new path. But I think with this newfound confidence in writing, and sticking to it, my parents were proud and supportive of my decision. 

As of last semester, I am a Creative Writing major and a Business minor. I get asked a lot why I’m still minoring in something I don’t particularly like. Maybe it’s me still needing a safety net. Maybe it’s because I’m not perfect. Surprise! 

But after many years at VIU, I’ve finally landed in a program that I feel authentic in. I can see little 10-year-old Megan cheering me on.  

The fall semester was definitely not all sunshine and rainbows. To be honest, it was mostly filled with self-doubt, more imposter syndrome, and writer’s block. But I was presented with opportunities—such as working on The Nav—that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t pursue my version of success. 

At times I feel unstable in every possible way. The definition of success that I held on to so dearly throughout my education has been tossed out the window. I now have no idea what kind of career I’m going to have post grad, nor do I think I’ll make above minimum wage (lol). 

But I’m finding my flow, writing cool stories, and changing what success means to me. It’s definitely not working a 9-5 desk job or touching an accounting textbook ever again. 

Success is doing what I want to do rather than what others think I should do. I love and respect my mom but I’m never ever going to be able to do multiplication in my head. 

It’s filling in that missing piece of contentment and finally being able to say, 

Dear Mom and Dad, 

I am a writer.

Editor

Megan is a third-year Creative Writing and Business student. It’s her first year at The Nav and she’s looking to bring in some sugar and spice—okay, mostly spice—to her feature articles. When she’s not brainstorming with Sean, find her reading three books at once, snuggling with her kitty, and teaching a few yoga classes.

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