Imagine standing alone in your bedroom, silently rehearsing dialogue from a fantastical conversation you’ve written in your head about a yet-to-happen event that is sure to change your life in the most incredible way, all while you’re tediously matching freshly laundered socks. OK maybe it’s not pairing socks, but washing dishes. Or perhaps you’re commuting to work or sweating your ass off at the gym. Regardless of the location or the logistics, I know I’m not the only one who does this.
I can’t be the only one who does this.
OMG please tell me I’m not the only one who does this…
Now, I’m not talking about fantasizing you won the $500 million Powerball while stuck in rush hour traffic; I’m talking about the almost word-for-word conversation you pretend to have with your jerk of a boss after winning that $500 million Powerball wherein you inform him that you just bought the company with a “fraction” of your winnings and he’s being replaced “effective immediately.” I have envisioned everything from finally giving my ex the what-for he deserves; to carefully feigning sympathy when I find out the colleague I’ve crushed on for the better part of a decade is finally getting divorced; to blissfully welcoming back (and only partially I-told-you-so-ing) the one who almost got away when he finally realizes he was an idiot – and JUST in the nick of time, too. Phew, that was close!
And just so we’re clear, by “envision” I mean I have actively scripted scenes in my head for life events I would love to happen, but know deep down likely never will. Scripts in which I somehow manage to remove whatever obstacles are preventing these vignettes from becoming my reality. It’s like penning and starring in my very own 80’s sitcom: a problem presents itself and in approximately 22 minutes, it’s resolved and I survive network cancellation for another week. And with a really cool theme song and occasionally a much-needed laugh track too.
One of the episodes is “Kat’s New Job,” currently in re-runs. In this brilliant installment, our protagonist learns the details of a not-applied for, and thus, totally unexpected mid six-figure job offer from a Fortune 5 company on the west coast which not only is OK with, but totally wants her to incorporate her NSFW social media presence into her new position as their Social Media Director.
(Scene opens midway through our protagonist’s final meeting with Amazingly Cool New Boss in a trendy gastropub in some unidentified metropolitan city)
K: My custody order keeps me on the east coast. I don’t know how I could make a job in California work.
ACNB: No worries, Kat. The company recognizes that you have family commitments. We want you to be part of our team so we’re willing to work around them. You’d probably have to come to California once or twice a month, but otherwise the position would be remote.
K: I’m definitely not opposed to the occasional business trip. Is the travel schedule flexible? My finances are pretty tight after my divorce, so having to get a sitter more often may be too expensive versus being able to travel when my girls are not with me.
ACNB: Of course it’s flexible. But you don’t need to worry about any of that. We’re tripling your current salary. Finances won’t be an issue for you anymore. (Chuckling) Now if only we can get your love life straightened out!
K: (Rolling eyes, then laughing) Let’s not get crazy now, ACNB.
(More laughing, clink glasses).
I’ve rehearsed this scene quite a few times. And just like any productive script read-through, the details may change slightly after each performance, but the theme remains the same. In this case, someone finally recognizes the potential I’ve always known I have, but have been stymied to act upon because of fear, lack of resources, or otherwise uncooperative real life circumstances.
I don’t remember when I started scripting these little episodes of the World According to Kat, but it’s gone on for quite some time. Case in point: when I was 12 and ended up happily ever after with my 8th grade crush, Tom M., after my supposed best friend stole him from me, I’m pretty sure the scene ended with me making out with my hand. Yes, I just admitted that publicly. What’s worse is the only reason I probably don’t do that now is because my vibrator doesn’t need foreplay…but I digress.
So why the hell do I do this? I’m not really a planner by nature. In fact, some of my friends will surely chuckle reading this knowing just how much of a planner I am NOT (right, KG?). I mean, I occasionally make To Do lists, but I almost never use them. So I’m certainly not creating these stories as some form of advanced preparation for actually trying to do the things in the stories I pretend to do. I am also pretty reticent to making major changes in my life without some major consternation. It took me months to get the balls to cut bangs into my hair. MONTHS. Yet the tales I weave while drying those bangs would create nothing short of epic change were they to actually happen.
And the deeper I dig, the more I realize there is a pervasive theme throughout all these monologued dialogues. It’s not me taking the leap, it’s someone else. As an ambitious and aggressive woman, this is beyond perplexing to me. Maybe it’s the fact that in most facets of my life, I give more than I take, and subconsciously feel unbalanced and owed something from the universe. Perhaps I’m trying to rewrite my story on my terms because I feel I’ve been robbed of the power to do so. Or maybe I’m just fucking crazy and someone is coming for me with a pretty white jacket with REALLY long sleeves.
Whatever the reason, this intentional daydreaming turned storytelling doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. So how do I use it to get what I want? Or more aptly, can I use it to figure out what it is I really, truly want? I’ve tried to incorporate it in my newer writing, but it’s trickier than I thought when writing in the first person. So, as with most of my life, it’s a work in progress. But one thing is certain – there has to be a way to creatively wrest control from those people and things I’ve clearly allowed subconsciously (or otherwise) to author certain chapters of my story that are thematically no longer compelling. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll resist the urge to simply keep rewriting the ending until I get it right, and use this creative process to just write the damn sequel instead.