As a writer, you’re the constant observer. You ingest the scene, the subject, and scenario. Yet, you rarely reflect on yourself, except via the words you’ve produced. Your world is defined by being in the background of those in the spotlight, yet in many ways you define what the “spotlight” is. It’s very selfless, but self-centered work… if that makes sense. Famed writer and Professor William Zinsser once noted: “writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it.” I see truth in this statement, the rush you get when you see your first byline is nothing less of euphoric. However, helping someone tell their story and bring light to their dream is no less thrilling. But for the New Year, I’ve chosen to tell my own story. I’ve chosen to take stock of myself. Where do I stand? Where am I going? This is my interview with myself. It’s my turn to answers the top five questions I normally ask to lead in or break the ice with a subject. So I guess I’m up….
Q: What is your greatest fear?
EG: It’s two-fold. If I have to sum it up, it’s regret. I deeply fear disappointing loved ones. I left my hometown at 17-years-old for college and never moved back. I’m there for holidays and birthdays, but I don’t see my family and friends as much as I would like. I chose my dreams, which makes me feel guilty. Not that I could change their worlds if I were there, but at least I’d be there to support them whenever they needed me. It weighs heavy on my heart; sometimes I regret leaving and resent myself for being selfish.
There is humility in coming home.
But I also fear not living to my full potential. There was an exact moment when I realized that regret would entirely kill my spirit. I was in high school leaving the city bus stop in downtown New Haven, heading to my part-time job at a local discount store in Hamden, CT. I overheard a late-20-something girl discussing what she “had” once been; she was still living in her past glory. Not enjoying the moment she was in. She was stuck. It was sad, she was still very young, but she was completely and uttered enthralled with her past. She was never going to be able to see her future or understand her full potential. I said to myself, I will never be that girl. I will live out my dreams.
Q: What was your fondest memory from childhood?
EG: Gosh, there were so many. It may have looked harder from the outside than it actually was. In my eyes it was all-idyllic. But if I really had to pick one, it was Christmas Day(s) on Read Street. Back then, my mother and I lived with my grandparents. Actually, my aunt and her kids also lived there, as well as my great uncle. Combined, I think there were about maybe 4-5 kids, and 5 adults all in one house. But it worked. It was perfect. The festivities would start the night before with my mother and grandfather wrapping gifts in the living room. It was sheer chaos, but there no was greater love. We’d wake up with a sea of presents under the tree. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but they did. Later in the morning my other uncles and cousins would stop by, and we’d have a big family breakfast. It was magical. Back in the 90s, things were a tad hectic in my neighborhood, but inside our house, we were always happy. There was nothing like it.
Q: Favorite book of all time and why?
EG: The “Fear of Flying” by Erica Jong. I actually own a first edition. It’s such a gem and a coming of age novel. The book’s protagonist – Issadora Zelda White was nearly 30, but still awaiting true self-actualization. It’s a feminist read in many senses, as it sort of says… hey… you can want more in life than just marriage or kids. You can have dreams, you can be selectively selfish, and it’s fine.
Q: Describe your life in one word?
EG: Lucky. Everyday I say to myself how? Why? Am I really this fortunate? How many people can say they actually and truly lived their childhood dreams. Sure, there were bumps in the road, but those bumps were still amazing. I pinch myself everyday and say…did I really do that?
Q: Fill in the blank: No matter what happens in my career and in my life, I know one thing for sure. I will never again __________________________________.
EG:I’ll never again let anyone make feel less than who I am. Letting someone define your self-worth is ghastly. It happens; as humans we seek constant approval. But I can’t allow someone to make me question myself. I am me. Only God and maybe my parents can judge me, ha! If you allow the outside world to tell you who you are, you’ll never understand what you are to become.
– by Ericka N. Goodman as told to Ericka N. Goodman