I’ve always wanted to be good at one thing. I can draw, but I was never the best in the class. I used to sing and act, but I wasn’t winning any awards. I never had the embrasure for flute, according to my music teacher, and I started saxophone too late (and with very little enthusiasm – I was a twelve-year-old girl, I wanted to play flute dammit). I admire people who find and embrace that thing they love and focus and practice and make it a part of them.

When I met my best friend in college, she knew she wanted to be a writer. She had known this her whole life. It was part of her, as if it were encoded in her DNA, right there with brown hair and a supreme distrust of the tomato. Everyone in college seemed to be like this, having popped out of wombs some eighteen years earlier already holding microphones or lighting equipment or tattered volumes of Kerouac.

Not me.

I started off college undeclared. And when I learned that those who were undeclared got to register for classes a day ahead of everyone else, therefore getting first pick, I was determined to stay undeclared for as long as possible. By the end of sophomore year when I was forced to make my choice, I chose writing. I could read a lot, I could graduate with a creative thesis instead of some boring research project, and if I decided to pursue a different interest later, well, good writing skills always come in handy.

I remember that excitement when the semester’s courses were starting to feel stale and the catalog for the following semester would come out – photography and cultural criticism and the history of the Far East – and I could take my pick.

I have continued in my adult life to seek that one thing that is mine, that sets me apart somehow from the pack. I’ll always have writing, in which I have lately found success, but once a year I also pull out the paint brushes or the sewing machine. Or one of the three guitars. Or the tennis racket. And I do something messy and imperfect; I exercise a muscle that’s been resting far too long. I awaken something inside, shake things up a bit, find a new angle.

And I remember how good it felt to be undeclared.



  1. Katie said

    The flute isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… ;) But I still have mine should you want to venture into lessons sometime!

    • ifyoubelievethenclap said

      Oh, I did play for four years – I just sucked!

  2. anewfriend said

    Embrace who you are. Stop looking for something special. You already have it.

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