I was in a pageant when I was seven. My curls bounced on my shoulders and my shoes tapped across the floor for the big on-stage question: What does Amy want to be when she grows up? And with every ounce of confidence that I had in my body, I responded: The Schwan’s Man. Because he has all the ice cream.
In middle school, my lactose intolerance had come to fruition and I decided it was time to rethink my dreams. I tore through notebooks and scratch paper from the time I learned to hold a pencil, writing down every thought that entered my brain. I scribbled poems onto take-out menus and I would write fictional biographies about the mail man and the cashier at the grocery store. A writer. That’s what twelve-year-old-Amy had landed on. She was going to be a writer. Simple as that.
In high school my grandma gave me a folder filled with photo copies of every scrap of writing that I’d given her over the years. That was the moment I realized that I was a shit writer. The poetry books I couldn’t put down were filled with words strung beautifully together and laced through my brain like electricity. The words that filled my notebooks were awkwardly clumped together and hung there like an unanswerable question. Seventeen-year-old Amy thought we’d better think realistically and begin our pursuit of the inevitable: becoming an English teacher. She began the long process of washing the black dye out of her naturally blonde hair, applying for college, and removing the massive chip from her shoulder.
I always thought I’d be the first one among my peers to have it all figured out. I had my English degree by the time I was 21. I was on track to have my teaching license before I was 22. I was fluent in American Sign Language and put my heart and soul into volunteer work for my resume. I didn’t mind my experience with teaching. But I had found a new love in college and I could not stop thinking about it… sign language. So what did 21-year-old Amy do? She went back for more school.
So here we are: 23-year-old Amy. Working as a sign language interpreter with a couple degrees under my belt. But there’s a voice in my head constantly making me question: does the Deaf community deserve better? Is my love affair with writing hindering my ability to grow and treat their language with the passion and the tenacity it deserves?
My quarter-life crisis came early, and I know I’m not unique with my incessant doubt about the rest of my life weighing on my shoulders. My grandma’s folder is long gone and so is she. So here I am: starting over, broadcasting my thoughts on a platform less tangible than take out menus, still lactose intolerant.