Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are We Defined by our Desires?

I have wanted to go nightclubbing since I was about 16. When I turned 18, most of my friends still weren't old enough to go. In college, partying was synonymous with drinking, and living in a community of students who didn't drink, I didn't meet anyone who wanted to accompany me, let alone approve of my desire to go clubbing in the first place. Back home, my friends were going out on the town without me.  As my goal felt out of reach, my desire grew stronger.

When I finally went clubbing for the first time the summer after I turned 21, I was really disappointed.  Part of it just wasn't what I expected, but I really felt empty inside. Nightclubbing was one of the final things on my list of goals. Having it as a goal had been such a big part of who I was in college, and now I wasn't even sure I liked it. But then I said to myself, Look, you're 21 and you're writing your first novel. Doesn't that count for anything?  Logically, I knew that writing a book should be much more defining than a desire to go nightclubbing, if for no other reason than that I was actually doing it, not just wanting.  Then it hit me - I had built nightclubbing up so much because I couldn't do it.  I didn't have anyone to go with, I wasn't comfortable going by myself, and it just wasn't a goal that most people approved of. It made me feel rebellious.

The moment I decided to write a novel, I started working on it.  There was nothing preventing me and no disapproval, but most importantly, my novel didn't spend much time being a "desire" before it was what I was really doing.  But, like the nightclubbing, my novel became more self-defining, more something I wanted to tell everyone about, when September came and schoolwork began to interfere with my writing - when my goal of finishing my novel became harder to reach.

When I think about the things that have mattered the most to me, only a handful are things that I fantasized about for a long time before I got to do them.  I would think that actually doing something should be more important than wanting to do it, but sometimes it feels like just the opposite.  Maybe desire really is what matters most.

No comments:

Post a Comment