It is not easy for most people to admit they are wrong. I am a strange one when it comes to this concept. If I know nothing or almost nothing about what is being debated, I will hear someone out and then make a logical decision based on fact and proof. If what is being debated is something I am familiar with or know well, I will push to make my point heard and argue until I’ve convinced the other person that my point of view is the right one.
In that way, I’m a bit of a control freak.
I have imbued my main character, Taya, with this trait in an attempt to view how I must be perceived by others – those who know me and expect this and those who don’t. She comes across as being kind of bitchy. At the same time, she convinces herself of the necessity of this trait in a world that tends to see her as “less than” the woman she is. She has had to fight tooth and nail to prove to the world that she matters and yet, the world is unable to see past her youthful exterior.
This was echoed in my own life when I moved in with my father at the age of 16. I didn’t know it at the time, but nothing I could have done would have pleased him, unless it was to treat his word as gospel and give up my independence. From the age of 6 I wanted to be a teacher (and the age of 9 an author). It stood to reason that I could write in the summer months and work during the school year. Just as I was filling out college application forms my father says to me, “Don’t expect me to pay for you to go to school to become a teacher. Find another profession.” My mother had no money to be able to help me, and I had saved very little working at a cafe that year. No self-respecting college was going to help me with a loan because my father made too much money (he was still a middle-income earner but in the upper bracket).
The only other thing I was interested in was writing. So I decided to try Broadcasting Journalism. Let’s just say that I found out fast that I could pass most of my classes with a mark in the low 80s with minimal effort, but I hated current events. I felt like a fraud surrounded by other students (my friends) who were desperate to have a career in Journalism and I was just going through the motions. This was not the right career for me.
My father’s response when I told him I wasn’t going to finish my diploma but go to university for teaching instead?
“You never finish anything you start.”
Then it dawned on me. He never attended any of my track meets in high school, he never supported my interest in archery (and I got a silver medal at a local competition), the only time he ever attended a theatrical production I was in was when I played a bit part in a musical in my final year (and he wondered why he even bothered coming)… are you seeing the pattern? I was. He knew nothing about me and yet he somehow got it in his head that I never finished anything I started.
When he looked at me, he saw my mother (not because I look like her, I actually have more of his features). I believe it had something to do with my mannerisms and my optimism because that’s where our similarities end. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother fiercely but the only role-model she played in my life was the “I’m never going to be like her” one. She never finished high school, she dated questionable men, she was a roamer, she wasn’t good with money… I learned how to live my life by being observant of her faults. One thing I could never fault her for though, was believing in me.
And that’s what my character, Taya, needed – someone to believe in her. For her it was an older-sister type character she met while working a job, but that kind of undeniable support does incredible thing for the spirit. No matter Taya’s need to be in control, her bitchy attitude, or the walls she’d built around her heart – someone finally understood her.
Don’t we all need that? Just one person to look past our faults and simply believe?
This I know and know well, and it is this driving force that I endowed Taya with to find out how both she, and I, might survive when that support disappears leaving us stranded.
Have you been there – when you’ve felt absolutely alone and yet you were supposedly surrounded by people who loved you?