Short answer: one disciplined step at a time, by listening to your inner voice.
This is my story.
I do what I love. I'm a therapist, and its my privilege and honor to witness stories, hold the bottle for tears, and be present in the deepest pain and greatest breakthroughs. What a calling! and for us, this unique modern priesthood, each day we occupy the confessional and carry forth a box of secrets.
Therapy wasn't always my dream job, in fact it never occurred. On my first round of college I wanted to be a writer/journalist. But in my mid-twenties I'd become paralyzed by anxiety after moving to the Midwest from Hawaii. My husband and I, with our 3 and 5 year old, had driven all the way to Indiana to go to college, making a change in our lives (and that stretch in the car underwater was really long, ha ha).
We got where we were going, and the apartment we'd rented sight-unseen turned out to be cheap because it was in a low-income housing project.
After moving in, I had a recurring and persistent sensation of being invisible. I was terrified to leave the 5th floor apartment, (never having lived above the ground before) especially after some dude running from police tried to break in and was taken down against our door.
There were strange things like lightning storms and tornadoes, and Indiana was so flat I never knew where I was–in Hawaii and California there are always geographic clues like mountains and ocean.
I knew no one and no one knew me–a Hawaii girl, in Indiana. In a black housing project. It was a truly foreign culture, and at least initially, a rough adjustment.
The campus therapist, a lovely redheaded woman whose name I can't remember, “normalized” my situation for me and within a few sessions had me feeling better–and it was in her office I had a revelation: this. This was what I wanted to do.
A crystal clear moment of decision–on the couch of someone I imagined I'd look very much like in about twenty years (perhaps that was part of the power of it). She was red-haired, freckly and a bit plump, with the kind of warm brown eyes that invited confidence and promised absolution.
It took another ten years for me to get all the education I needed for my career–but I never looked back.
I minored in Creative Writing during that educational stint, and began my first mystery novel–the story of a beautiful blonde woman with two kids and an uptight husband living a seemingly perfect country club life. A hidden past crashes in upon her in the form of a drunken father she's never acknowledged. He bursts in on her carefully-constructed existence and later turns up dead in a hit-and-run.
And she has a memory blackout from the evening and a dent in her car.
(Dang. It's a good story and I got an A on the opening chapters and the outline…where is that thing?)
But in hindsight, it's all been leading up to now. Now is when I do the work I studied so hard and long to prepare for, and it's my eyes that invite secrets.Now is when I write the stories about what fascinate me about the great human mystery.
Now it's all happening.
Are you doing what you love to do? If not, what's stopping you?