A Journey of Self Discovery, Pt. 1: Clowning Around

I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a writer. Though I wrote stories when I was younger, I never thought to myself, “Yea, I can be like Madeleine L’Engle.” or later, “I can be like Neil Gaiman, Jacqueline Carey or JK Rowling.

Instead, I wrote small stories for myself (or for my creative writing classes) and spent the majority of my youth preparing myself for a career in the medical field. I wanted to be a cardiovascular surgeon.

Yet here I am, years later, thinking more and more seriously about a career in writing. I look back on my younger self  and say things like, “Cardiovascular surgeon? That’s way too much math and science.

The transition from medicine to several other majors to writing didn’t come easy for me, however. It was a process years in the making. It’s a process that I’m still going through, albeit now I have a clearer vision of where the path is. Over the next few weeks I will blogging about how I discovered my passion for writing and how I am turning that passion into a prospective career.

I like to think that the turning point of my journey to self discovery began a few years ago, when the Bagpiper, on one of our first dates, took me to the circus.

We arrived early and were given an opportunity to go back stage and do a meet-and-greet with some of the performers. While I was amazed by the animal trainers and the acrobats, it was the clowns who left the most impression on me.

Clowns are some of the coolest, nicest people you'll ever meet.

I know many people don’t like clowns, but I have always liked them. I promise, they are not the scary, evil creatures Stephen King would have you to believe they are. Of all the clowns I’ve met (and believe me, I’ve met my fair share), they’ve all been nothing but genuinely awesome people.

However, here was one clown in particular, his name was Super Steve, who really left a big impression on me. He was about my age, young/mid twenties, and we got to talking. It’s a little surreal to have a “serious” conversation with a clown, but there we were, backstage at the circus, discussing life choices.

Super Steve! Isn't he adorable?

It began when I asked Super Steven how he got into clowning. He told me a story about being in college and needing to make extra cash. Steve had a friend who had gone to clown school and worked birthday parties as a part-time gig and made money that way. It seemed like a fun, easy way to make cash and so Steve took a clown course at a local community college. Two years later, he’s traveling with Ringling Bros and having the time of his life.

A couple of days later, I was still thinking about Steve’s story. It was so simple. He saw an opportunity that looked like fun, and ended up discovering his passion.

About the same time I met Super Steve, I was enrolling to go back to school so I could finish my degree. The problem was, I had no clue what I wanted that degree to be in. After so much time out of school, I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. Then I discovered that my school offered an eight week clowning course at night. I jumped at the chance.

What ensued was probably the most fun I’d ever encountered in a class. Even though the class offered no credit to my degree plan, it allowed me to explore a venue that I would have never have thought to experience had it not been for Super Steve. In eight weeks I learned the basics of juggling (I never could get the hang of it), balloon animals, face painting and even a bit of the history of clowning.

I reinvented myself as “Bamboo” — adorable panda-loving clown with a penchant for gigging (so, basically, I was myself with an awesome purple wig).

Though I didn’t pursue clowning the way Super Steve did (I do the occasional church function and birthday party here and there), I don’t regret those eight weeks in clown school. I didn’t just learn the tricks of being a clown, I learned to let go of my inhibitions.

It’s funny how it happens. While I tend to be on the quiet side when in a group of people, the moment I donned that purple wig and red nose…well, I couldn’t help but not be the center of attention. Being outgoing is never easy for me, but dressed as a clown I was so amazed at how effortless it was to draw the attention to myself. Not only I was I outgoing and fun, but I reveled in the feeling.

Clowning has taught me more about who I am and who I can be than I could have ever imagined.

So how does clowning translate into writing?

Find out Monday when I reveal part two of A Journey of Self Discovery. Please make sure to subscribe to this blog to be notified when the next post is available.

If you are a writer, where you born knowing it was what you wanted to do or did you have an Aha! moment? If you’re not a writer, but you think of becoming one, what do you think is holding you back?

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7 responses

  1. Carolyn

    What a lovely, lovely post! Love the purple hair!

    February 17, 2011 at 9:24 am

  2. I look forward to the rest of this series.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:11 am

  3. Thanks Carolyn! The purple hair is my favorite part about my clowning attire.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:11 am

  4. Alice, I absolutely love this post! I think it’s very cool of you to make a leap and go for clowning school. Sounds like you learned a great life lesson from it, too!

    Like you, even though I wrote all the time, I didn’t think of myself as a writer until a couple years ago. I used to say I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was even a part of the Veterinarian Explorers (a specialized teenage division of the boyscouts) in high school and worked at Sea World as my first job during that time.

    What changed? I finally realized where my passion was. It took many years, but I guess it happens that way, huh?

    February 17, 2011 at 10:12 am

  5. Cid

    That – was awesome.

    I would probably have never found writing on my own. My best friend Zibby read a lot, so I read a lot. She wrote some stuff. So I started writing. I’m not very good at finding a new origional thing on my own, but with a little bit of leading I can charge ahead. Without her I would never have written a single word and I wouldn’t be where I am now.

    And I totally understand being shy. You might not realize it, but at one point in my life I was painfully shy. I had a moment when I realized that I was just limiting myself and I went out of my way from that day on to be friendly – because I wanted someone to be friends with me, and I realized everyone else was just as shy as I was. So ta-da! Here I am. 😀

    February 17, 2011 at 10:19 am

  6. What a lovely post. ❤

    Like you, I wrote a lot of short stories but I always secretly wanted to be a writer. I didn't think I ever would write a novel or two, or half of them anyway. But anyway it wasn't until I was a senior in high school that a teacher told me to pursue it. She said I had an imagination and that I could make a career out of it.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:32 am

  7. Pingback: A Journey of Self Discovery, Pt. 2: Learning the Ropes

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