In middle school (Prairie Middle School in Aurora, Colorado, thank you very much) I knew a very cool girl named Linda Ceriello. Linda and I were partners in 7th grade home ec. We made 13" red velour stuffed lips pillows together (pudding, too, but the pillows were the best part of home ec). She was the coolest girl I knew at the time -- very rock and roll. And at a time when I was painfully shy, she was my friend.
In high school (that's Overland High School, right across the grass from Prairie), we were both very involved in art and music. We had a high school vocal recital together...that's me all the way over on the left. Linda is second from the right. She was really good at art, and I was...intimidated. Now, I grew up making art -- it was always part of my life. It got me through a lot of times when actual confidence (which I sorely lacked) couldn't. I was always that kid who could draw, that kid who could do needlepoint, that kid who could... But Linda and another dear friend, Kris Langan, were really good at art. I mean really good. I didn't think I was in the same league and I let that guide me right out of Sam Short's art room (and, to be honest, from those friendships). What a mistake. I concentrated on the other thing -- music -- that was relatively easy for me. I went to school for that, and continued on all the way through grad school and the start of a career. Deep down, I always wished that I had stuck with art.
Now that doesn't mean that I regret the years I spent honing my musical abilities -- not by a long shot. I met people -- including my husband -- and had amazing experiences that I would never disavow. But whenever I'm especially stressed out, I've always returned to visual arts. Growing up with two very artistic parents, visual arts are probably hardwired into my DNA. And over the years, I've definitely gravitated to the visual side of things. Between photography, graphic design and the decoupage work, I'll probably put "artist" as my occupation on this year's tax forms. Not too bad.All this is by way of saying that the thing you're supposed to be is probably always inside of you, if you only stop, sit quietly for a bit (hours, days, years) and listen really hard. It's already there. You have everything you'll ever have locked inside -- it's your job to figure out how you're going to realize it.
UPDATE: I received the nicest comment from Linda today (you can read it in the comments section) -- it's so interesting to see how different people experience the same thing. Also -- thanks Linda!