When I was a little girl I thought I would be a ballet dancer for a job. Apparently, you could get money to go to class and perform and that seemed like heaven. When I decided at age fourteen not to move away from my family to Kansas City to study dance full-time there, I left the serious ballerina track behind. Yes, I made an early career decision before I entered high school yet my identity as a dancer remained.
I always assumed I would work but I had no idea what I would do. My mom always worked full-time (sometimes two jobs even) but what she actually did in her job for the state of Kansas always seemed fuzzy to me. What is administering job training programs, anyway? I didn’t think of myself as destined to any career; I would work hard at whatever was put in front of me.
Social welfare was my major at the University of Kansas, but I left the graduate program during what I call my early life crisis (feel free to read all about it in my memoir Float On). Who was I if I wasn’t a ballerina, a student or a social worker?
I found a new arena to explore – the catering and restaurant business. I worked long and hard at that with my husband Robert and to much success. But when I didn’t have to work in the restaurant business anymore, I was grateful. I no longer had to work evenings and weekends and miss out on much of our daughters’ lives. But if I wasn’t in the restaurant business, who was I?
Now I’ve published three books and am both proud and humbled to be called a writer. As a young child I used to think that books were birthed at libraries, like potatoes that are dug from the soil. When I realized that people actually form the words to make books I was amazed. But for most of my life I thought of myself as a reader, not a writer. Or so the story I told myself went…
My first best friend Beth came to my book launch for Float On and gave me copies of a magazine together we created back in 1982. It was called Fishkers, a combination of our last names that heavily favored hers – a fact that I’m still trying to get over. Beth kept these magazines! I am holding copies in my hands! So many things about seeing these:
- I was a terrible speller.
- I’m afraid I may have plagiarized.
- I published recipes prior to my cookbook The Cook’s Book of Intense Flavors – Orange Julius (remember those?) and Scrumptious Eggs.
- Our Bumper Stickers section was an early version of a Pinterest Board.
- I called myself Writer and Etitor (original spelling).
I was in my late thirties when I first ventured into sharing my writing on this blog. I did not think of my myself as a writer; I thought of myself as a Pastry Chef, as a Wife, as a Mother, as a Reader. But now that I see I actually typed the words Writer, Molly Krider when I was ten years old, I wonder if I tucked that identity somewhere and forgot about it, like an old coat you pull out and find you had stashed a twenty-dollar bill in the pocket.
We are all more than the jobs we do and the the roles we fill, but how we think of ourselves certainly affects how we feel in the world, doesn’t it? Ten-year old Molly thought of herself as a writer, and despite her spelling and using unattributed sources, I guess she was, and that now makes me smile.
It helps me to remember to give room to the young people I’m around to try out different identities. To encourage people of all ages to be open to explore new ones and try on old coats from the closet. To be forgiving to myself when in my own attempts I misspell easy words and think it’s all for nothing. Because who knows what could be in your hand when you check that pocket?