I believe I am fundamentally optimistic despite my sincerest efforts to convince others, and myself that I am sullenly cynical. My hopefulness is concealed beneath a veil of public pessimism. I’ve wallowed in defeat, and surrendered to self-pity. I’ve felt humiliation, embarrassment, anger, and frustration. I’ve lost everything, forced to live in a friend’s basement, sleeping on a cot next to a noisy boiler. I’ve failed over and over again. Yet, I’ve never quit because I believe in following my dreams.
In my early twenties, the fearless nature of youth convinced me beyond any doubt that I would become a famous comedian. I ignored the onslaught of predictable lectures about “foolish dreams,” and “realistic goals.” My optimism paid off. For fifteen years, I supported myself as a comic. I was funny. I eventually moved to Hollywood, attempting to leap from the shadows of anonymity into the bright light of fame. I wasn’t funny enough. Money ran out. I got divorced. I went bankrupt. I crawled back to New York, temporarily lost.
At thirty-six, I returned to college and earned a BA and then MA, both within five years, both with honors. I was optimistic that my new direction as a high school English teacher would be rewarding. Unfortunately, I quickly became disillusioned by the realities of teaching. I tried another high school. I wasn’t asked back. Yet, so many students and parents showed their support for me, I knew I deserved to be a teacher. I tried again….and again…and again. Finally, regardless of the many accolades, after five schools in seven years, I abandoned my second incarnation.
I’m now fifty; married with twin fifteen month old girls. Logical wisdom would demand practicality and abandonment of lofty goals. But I remain optimistic. I have been writing for years and honing my skills with the help of several acclaimed authors. After ten years of hard work, I recently finished my first novel. Despite insane odds and old tapes ringing in my head about “realistic goals” and “foolish dreams,” I am optimistic that I’ll be published. I’m optimistic that I’ll take my MFA and published work, and teach creative writing at a college while continuing to hone my craft as a writer.
While I go through the arduous process of obtaining a literary agent, I’m working on my second novel. On weekdays, I tutor. I’ve earned a great reputation on Long Island’s North Shore. On weekends, I do standup comedy. I’m funnier than ever. Despite all the failures of my past, I am optimistic that I will succeed. I believe in chasing windmills. I believe in myself. (Please don’t tell my therapist. I enjoy complaining every week).