Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Hats You Wear Don't Matter

When I was kid I wanted a hat. I blame this on growing up with tons of uncles and cousins, and living in WV where the rednecks play and hunt and fish and sport farmer's tans. (Truth.) But I had a really big head. Seriously. Baseball caps (which are adjustable) didn't even fit--unless they were the velcro kind that could fasten at the very end just enough to keep it together and on my head. I had a few cousins who moved to WV from Texas and they came with cowboy hats. One of them was pink and my first-grader self WANTED THAT HAT. Need I say more? That was a nightmare.

It looked A LOT like this.
In my life, I have literally owned three hats (excluding winter toboggan things. I love those.) They just don't look good on me, and I got tired of trying to find THE PERFECT HAT that fit my head and looked good and went with everything. I may not own or wear any real hats, but I wear too many figurative hats. Everytime I take off one hat, a new one takes its place.

Hats are a funny thing, because when I am wearing one I always tell myself that I don't want anymore--and then an opportunity comes up and I have to take it. So I add another hat to my head. (Anyone else have this problem?)

I think all this hat-wearing-overload stems from my desire to live a life of passion. If you've never heard the story of my how I realized the importance of living a life of passion, then it's here.

The thing I've learned since that post back in 2010? Living a life of passion is tremendous. Tremendously difficult, rewarding, exhausting, stressful. It requires a thick-skin, an ability to function without sleep, determination, perseverance, failure, patience and flexibility. It requires constant encouragement from the people who get it and a firm, unwavering reassurance in what's driving you so you have a response to those who don't get it; a response that you are doing the thing that's best for you--even if it doesn't make sense to others (which it won't unless they are doing the same)--because it's so draining and they think your life would be easier if you pursued something else. (Pursuing my passion is something that I find I have to defend a lot, especially since it's publishing, which is an unsure, low-paying, never-ending beast.) Passion doesn't allow for you to stop. It doesn't allow for you to settle. Instead it pushes you to go beyond your limit to keep up or stay ahead of it or just make it through the day. Other people don't always understand what you are working toward or why. That's why I believe whatever we pursue has to be something we're passionate about, something we do for ourselves and not for someone else.

I experience this a lot: this uncertainty about what my priorities are or why I am working so hard for this one thing.

From my roommate, from strangers, from my family, and sometimes from my friends who get tired of hearing me cry or stress about just. how. hard. this is. Especially when I live in one of more expensive areas of the country on no money. (Thanks, Metro DC area.) But despite that, I can't seem to stop putting on hats or wearing hats or being so completely excited (when I'm not stressed) about all the hats that I wear. And I wear a lot of them.

I'm an author.
A writer.
An editor.
An intern-director-person.
A bookseller.
An event planner.
A friend, sister, daughter, reader, encourager, cousin, TV fan, music-listener (those are hats, too!)

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter WHAT hats I wear. It matters that the hats I wear bring me joy, and give my life purpose.

That's all we can really ask for.

Right now, even though I tend to be so stressed out or overwhelmed that I don't know how to function as a human being, I never regret the hats that I wear. The various roles I get to balance are so rewarding, and the results from them matter. The results matter. To my authors, to my friends, to the customers at the store, to my future readers, to my author's future readers, to teens, to my friends, to myself.

Maybe one day I will remove some hats. Maybe all those things I identify with won't be there anymore, or maybe they will. I know the day I wake up and don't want to do something I'm doing is the day I'll remove that hat and move on. When I'm not joyful about that thing or I feel like it doesn't matter anymore.

Until then I will soldier on, probably gaining more hats without even looking for them. And one day, maybe, I will find a real hat that looks good on me.

I hope it's sparkly.


  1. Great post! Doing what you're passionate about is what matters - I find myself juggling several things most of the time, but I wouldn't have it any other way! :)

  2. I love this! And I understand what you mean about living a life of passion. So many times when I've been through the emotional roller coaster of writing, submitting and rejection, my family and friends wonder WHY I keep trying. But I can't not write. It's who I am. And I don't want to look back in ten or twenty years and regret that I didn't go for it.