I had an epiphany while straightening my hair this morning.

Basically, yesterday was not a very good day. And by the end, I realized that I am not very good at my job. And while this initially manifested itself as the tiniest of nervous breakdowns on the Subway (as I like to do a good job with the things that I do), I realized this morning that I don’t actually want to be a good financial journalist and so I really shouldn’t be upset. This was just supposed to be a stepping stone before launching into the next phase of my life – whatever that may be.

And I’m afraid of being too confessional here – there were definite moments in “Julie and Julia” in which I was totally surprised by her candor. (And, besides, I’m *pretty* sure I would regret it later if I spilled my guts here in a moment of passion only to realize later that I probably shouldn’t have offered up the entire contents of my soul in an online forum. So I’ll try to hold myself back.)

I’ve always seen 30 as a big deadline by which point I’d have accomplished a whole heck of a lot. And while I still have a couple of years to go before I reach said deadline, the sad truth is that in just two short weeks, we will officially be 6 months away from my next birthday which means I will have officially pissed away another half of a year of my life and I have nothing to show for it. Same stupid job, same apartment…still going to die alone. (You can try to say it, too, Pants, but everyone knows it’s my phrase.)

Earlier this year, I was all abuzz with this whole pie-making thing and I was sure that it would change my life. I mean, I guess it’s still possible…but the fact of the matter is that I do not have anyone to go with me to Orlando for the pie-making contest which makes me feel like I cannot go at all because only sad, pathetic losers would go to pie-making contests by themselves, right?

As a sidenote (I’ll get back to my original point eventually – I promise), a friend was recently telling me about The Secret. She said she was trying to purchase The Departed on Amazon.com and noticed it was the #2 Best Seller. So, curious, she sought out the #1 Best Seller and found The Secret. I haven’t actually watched the DVD or read the book, but I got the CliffsNotes version from her: if you think positively, good things happen to you. So, without really thinking about it, I found myself stopping negative thoughts (I’d gasp in the middle of such thoughts and say to myself, “The Secret!”) only to instead come up with a more positive spin. This has happened with everything from waiting for the F train in the morning (“Oh, it’ll probably be a G train…”) to getting a new job (“Oh, she’ll probably say they still have a hiring freeze…and I’m not really qualified anyway…”).

But yesterday I wasn’t in a very Secret-y mood and I fell back into my usual line of thinking. This morning, however, I think I had a moment of clarity. I have to go to that pie-baking competition. And while it’s too bad that I’ve moved around so much and don’t have that one special close friend who has to do what I say because we’ve known each other since time immemorial…and so I can just say, “Orlando. April. I need support. You’re coming with me…” and that friend has no choice but to comply…that doesn’t mean I should give up on this completely.

I think I’m tougher than I – or anyone else really – give myself credit for. Case in point: as I was leaving work yesterday, I got stuck in the elevator with a bunch of guys going to poker night. I was not in a very good mood as I was feeling like something of an abject failure…and so one of them made the requisite joke about how funny it would be if I came along with them. And, yes, he’s right – it would be hilarious – me, with my high-pitched voice and countless neuroses trying to hold my own with a bunch of cards and some poker chips. The absolute definition of irony. And then another one of them said something about how it’s “always the quiet ones” who do something that surprises you – like play really good poker. And, yes, I’m pretty quiet most of the time. I’m shy. It takes me awhile to warm up to people. But once I do, I do actually have things to say. And I guess I’m just sick of people making jokes about me being quiet because I’ve been hearing them forever and all it really does is prove that they don’t know me very well at all because I can actually talk about things.

So, that being said, I think I can go to Orlando alone. Granted, I will completely freak out when my crust doesn’t come together the way I want it to or when I cut my hand on the apple wedger or whatever baking crisis come to pass. But, on the other hand, I’ve done some really scary stuff in my life all alone and I’m perhaps a better person because of it. I flew all the way across the country by myself at the tender age of 17 to go to college. Then, two years later, I flew all the way across the country and the Atlantic Ocean by myself to study abroad for a year. I had mixed results – college in LA wasn’t such a good move, but England was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. My point – probably too touchy-feely for the blog I never intended to be at all confessional – is that I can go to Orlando by myself and I can bake pies and I can write about it. I have to – I’ve spent the past year being miserable about work and trying to find a way out…but I haven’t really done anything about it. I’ve talked about pitching stories and I’ve talked about putting together a collection of short stories, but at the end of the day, I really don’t have anything to show for it. I get home from work and I’m so flustered and/or tired, I end up doing nothing at all and this is how a girl becomes nearly 26 and a half and still has a job that she hates and feels like her career is going nowhere and she doesn’t know what else to do with herself.

So…I am going to write pitch letters like crazy this weekend. And I’m going to put together that collection of short stories (I admit this will probably take me more than a single weekend). I am going to become the master of my own destiny. And now I am thinking more like The Secret. And hopefully this means I will accomplish something before I’m 30. And maybe give those pie-bakers a run for the money in Orlando, too.

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