When You Find Your Calling, But It’s Weird AF
I’m a French teacher by training. After spending my entire adult life in academia, I finally left it behind when my daughter was born last summer. I’d been wanting to make a change for a long time, perhaps since mid-grad school if I’m honest, but one thing or another kept me hanging on. One of those things was decent health insurance. The other was a salary and flexible hours.
I knew I couldn’t bear to go back to teaching with at six-week-old baby at home and thank the universe my husband agreed. So I’ve been working on my next “thing” for about six months now as the kids’ sleep schedule allows.
While I did enjoy the teaching itself — I think that I was genuinely good at it — everything that happened outside of the classroom made me want to run away screaming and had for some time. I lost the spark I once had. The excitement of a great new idea for a lesson had worn off and I began to feel I was shortchanging my students by going through the motions instead of engaging with them and the material as deeply as they deserved.
It was time for me to make my exit.
Babies change our lives in so many ways, why not our career paths as well?
But this is where it gets weird.
Depending on your school of thought about writing, everyone absolutely needs or absolutely does not need a niche. Personally, as a professional dilettante, the idea of confining myself to one niche seems too restrictive. So, I narrowed it down to a few topics and then got to writing.
But if you’ve ever written anything, especially if you suck at outlines like I do, you know that the writing kind of decides what’s going to happen and where it’s going to go. My essays almost always start as planned and transform into something surprising by the end. Such was the case with my blog.
I realized that I kept having to tweak my tabs and my about page to reflect what I was writing instead of what I thought I would write. Turns out, I wasn’t as interested in some of the subjects as I imagined. A few old familiar topics came up consistently and my ideas gravitated toward them pretty reliably.
Ok, then! Plans change. That’s cool. I was figuring out my own mind and not everyone gets a chance to do that in life, so I considered myself lucky.
In spite of my dilettantism, my main writing categories whittled themselves down principally to anxiety, infertility, parenting, destroying the patriarchy, and, last but not least…opossums.
Is that not weird AF? I love those little critters so much! And while I know why I love them, I’m not sure why my love is so deep and fierce.
Although I have felt a special affinity to these shy creatures ever since I found out how many ticks they can eat in one year — 5000! — I didn’t actually start writing about them until a few weeks ago. But prior to that, I began following social media accounts dedicated to our only marsupial native to the Americas — the Virginia opossum.
The Increasingly Popular World of O/possum Passion
Opossums have a cult following of devoted defenders and advocates you probably didn’t know existed.
I soon fancied myself an artiste — I drew opossums, I painted them, I sculpted them from polymer clay, and I started making memes ranging from the educational, to the political, to the good old comical. It slowly dawned on me that my “thing” is an angsty, misunderstood weirdo that hides, hisses, and even plays dead in social situations — when things get a little too real.
It’s basically ME in marsupial form.
I found myself!
Opossums give me everything I was looking for in a creative endeavor — the perfect combination of the subjects I already mentioned, plus environmental protection, animal welfare, nurturing, curiosity, eccentricity, and art.
Interestingly enough, I am not the only opossum enthusiast — far from it. Our numbers are growing and hopefully, so is awareness and protection for my little buddies. But I’m taking it to the next level. I want to share my love and help protect them at the same time.
I’ve got plans. Little plans, but important plans, at least to me. Sorry, they are secret plans for now. Update: It’s a children’s book called Opossum Opposites.
At the age of 41, I have finally come to a place where I couldn’t care less that my own husband, my aunt and most/all of my friends think I am literally losing my mind over a rodent. (They are not rodents!)
Maybe I am losing it, but I shall be a happy lunatic.
I will not be famous, except perhaps in my small but passionate community of opossum proponents. My little opossum opus from a few weeks ago has been read, at the time of this writing, just under 1,000 times! To me, that is unfathomable. I’d be surprised if more than five people ever read my dissertation, so 1,000 might as well be 1,000,000!
I feel famous and that’s all that matters.
If a few people learned something they didn’t know, if a few sweet baby tick eaters are rescued and rehabbed so they can be released back into the wild to eat more mice and sundry carrion, I will be satisfied. If people get a laugh from my memes, if they enjoy my silly little drawings, I will be content.
I’m not solving world hunger or curing cancer, but I care deeply for something outside myself and I will do my utmost to help them in my unique way.
Thanks for reading!