It's horrible, not knowing what you're going to do with your life.
Since I was around 9, whenever anyone asked me, 'What's your ambition?', I always answered, 'To be an author'. There was no hesitation, no uncertainty, no hint of a creeping doubt back then. It's what I love; writing. I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.
The ambition clung on even when it was time to pick my subject stream when I entered secondary (high) school. I always knew I'd never choose the Business stream - the last thing I ever want, even now, is a desk job. I chose Science instead (for the knowledge) and Literature in English as the optional subject, because I assumed it'd help to expand my horizons with regards to writing. True, it did. But then, I was faced with reality.
My English is decent, insha Allah, but I suck on an epic scale when it comes to writing in Dhivehi (my native tongue). And here, for Maldivian writers, it's Dhivehi books that sell for them. Reality slap number one.
The book publishing system here, with all due respect, fails. For writers, that is. Here, you sell the copyright to some agency for a sum and that's all you're getting. A thousand people might buy your book, but the writer doesn't get a single penny from the gross. It all goes to the shops and the publisher. Reality slap number two.
My family is not rich. And due to certain circumstances, I'm the one whose gotta earn enough to support my parents when the day comes. I can't make that kind of money by writing. I considered doing photography 'cause I love it, but again, it's not a profession that gets you far in Maldives. Fashion photography, maybe, but I goggle nature, not skinny models in skimpy clothes. Reality slap number three.
When it was finally time to start my Degree, I decided on teaching because people and kids I've tutored tell me I'm good at it and I find it pretty satisfying (and it pays pretty well). University is hard - and can be irritating if you land with a lecturer that makes you wanna bang your head on the table - but overall, I really do love it. But it's overwhelming for me sometimes when I consider the future. If I officially attend a school as a teacher, it's bye-bye-free-time (and I'm someone that really values personal time. Why else would I procrastinate so much?) Second option is to just become a home tutor; that might bag me some free time, but would I make as much money that way? The thought is worrying.
Perhaps worst of all is that, somewhere deep inside, I want so much just to WRITE, with a little photography thrown in. People have told me I could write on the side while teaching, but lately, I've come to realise that most of my original fictions feature concepts ... not really that acceptable to Maldivian society. Sure, there are open-minded people, but even I myself find what I write weird sometimes. And, this is sad, but the majority of my people have a thing where they don't like new stuff. They stick with the old - which is why our film industry sucks for me; they do the same old storyline, retold in a cheesier, cornier way, because that's "what the masses connect with" - and brush aside new, alien ideas. And ... I just don't know ...
I'm still set on teaching, but it hurts when those moments come when I feel all uncertain and insecure and become afraid that I might regret the choices I've made. But I need to take reality into account and the path that is guaranteed, because due to my family situation right now, I can't afford the luxury of "trying something new" or "take a leap of faith" and do what I wanna do. I have my family I need to support and I don't ever want to let my parents down. They'd tell me to do what I want, but I know all too well that that wouldn't yield any satisfactory results, financial and realistic-wise. Not here, anyway.
I can deal with it. I can cling onto writing by immersing myself in fanfiction when I can, but it still feels horrible, wanting to walk down different paths at the same time. And lately I've been getting afraid that, due to these different wants and uncertainties, I might not find any path at all to walk on. That I might fail my family in the end. And that's just terrifying ...