I Am Josie Grossie: A Lesson in Passion Versus Practicality

This article was written in May of 2016 and published on This Much She Knows. Read to the end for an update on this writer’s creative journey.

I have always believed in the old adage that if you are lucky enough to find something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. But just how practical (and more importantly, feasible) is it to do so?

I love creating things, always have. When I was around 13 years old, my mom pulled out a homemade book (complete with pictures) that I made when I was in 2nd grade. I remember laughing at my outlandish story (it involved a whale and a haunted seashore), but I also remember thinking:

“Wait. Can I do this for a living? Can I write and get paid to do it?”

Prior to high school, I never really thought about what it is I wanted to do. I will be the first to admit that I skated by. My home life wasn’t ideal and looking back on those years, I can say with certainty that I was rebelling. I felt like no one really cared and it didn’t help that my teachers would all say the same thing:

“She has so much…potential.”

To be honest, I came close to loathing that word. It wasn’t quite the worst backhanded compliment you could receive, but it definitely wasn’t the best. The sad thing is that I couldn’t even argue with them. I wasn’t really trying. I simply just didn’t do what was asked of me. Not because I was stupid or incapable of doing so; I just couldn’t be bothered.

That all changed when I entered college and we began learning about the different majors and what each could potentially lead to. As I scanned the school programs, I ran my fingers across the most beautiful word.

JOURNALISM 

I remember watching the Drew Barrymore movie, “Never Been Kissed” and identifying so much (I’m talking an embarrassing amount) with the main character, Josie “Grossie” Geller. She had never been kissed (okay so maybe I had been kissed, but I’m pretty sure at that time I was the worst person to make out with because I had zero experience). Josie was awkward, she loved writing, and lastly, she was trying to make it as a reporter in Chicago. She was the youngest editor in the history of the newspaper, but in her late 20’s she realized that she wanted more. As much as a weirdo Josie was, I admired her. I wanted to be her.

As you probably guessed, I didn’t end up majoring in Journalism. Instead I majored in Criminal Justice and was on the road, or so I thought, to attending Law school or getting my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. I finally had direction!

After graduation, I worked at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. The work there was extremely rewarding, and at 23, it was the first job that I remember truly enjoying and feeling proud to wake up to go to. I was there for 3 years before I realized that I was depressed, burnt out, and needed a mental break. My mom’s cancer had also spread to her brain during this time so my aptitude to help others going through serious mental and health issues was at an all-time low. I needed out- so I went.

I booked a one-way ticket to San Jose, Costa Rica in 2013 to work at a bed and breakfast in a small beach town called Montezuma. While I was there I ended up in Playa Samara where I completed an English teaching program, which I still credit as the best decision I have ever made in my life. Teaching got me reading, writing, absorbing, and creating like never before- and it is what has led me to where I am today. I ended up staying in Central America for close to a year before coming home for my mom’s 59th birthday in July of 2014. She passed away on March 3rd of 2015.

Her death continues to be a slap, a jolt, a lightning bolt that comes down on me from time to time to remind me that time is running out.

“What am I doing? Is it in line with what I dream about at night? Am I passionate about my work?”

The answer is simple, yet entirely complicated.

I love teaching. It has given me a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and total joy.

Now, is it what I have wanted to do since I was a little girl?

No. The answer is no.

Here I am at 29 years old, and I realize, holy fuck. I AM JOSIE GROSSIE. I may not be playing catch up in the same way that Josie did, but the sad fact is that she may have me beat…

At 29, I am applying for internships in fields (public relations, marketing, communications, advertising, social media) that are mostly reserved for college students/individuals who are 10+ years younger than me. I have a degree, but do you think a PR firm cares that I know the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath? Do you think they will be impressed by the fact that I have read case study after case study on gun violence or why gangs exist?

No. The answer is no.

I am trying to make it in a field that is becoming increasingly more comparable to trying to make it as an actress in Hollywood. I never thought I would say this, but the reality is that the Internet is almost too accessible these days.

Case in point: Anyone and everyone can start a YouTube channel these days. There are millions of blogs to surf through, and Anna Kendrick is the Twitter reina (that’s Spanish for Queen) so why are you even trying to be witty? And cats. So many cats.

So, what’s a creative girl with plenty of outlets to do?

I’m going to find out.

Update:

Over a year has passed since the above piece was written and I am happy to report that much (and also nothing) has changed. Having taken a hiatus from my teaching role, these days I wake up with the mentality of a student. Writing, reading, learning, growing, and asking way too many questions – about everything.

I have broken through one of the most difficult parts of yoga, finding my breath, and in doing so have felt more in tune with myself, and everything around me. You’d be surprised to find how many of you are forgetting to breathe just moving and going about your day. Yoga has me standing more grounded than ever and this has led to some creative and personal growth that I never saw coming.

Taking charge of my finances, facing and grieving the death of my mother, working on my personal relationships, and last but certainly not least, writing. As a new contributing writer for REVUE by scout and Instagram photography enthusiast, I have not forgotten about dear Josie.

I still feel awkward in most social situations. I still make jokes that no one gets, and laugh at myself. From time to time, I still feel like that lonely girl who doesn’t quite fit in.

The spirit of Jossie “Grossie” Geller still lives on in me and truth be told, that’s quite alright. Josie is and always will be a reminder to never get too comfortable. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last year it is this: Try not to spend so much time in your head or in your comfort zone because nothing exciting happens there. Life is moving just outside of these two spaces. Go there.

Life is waiting, Josie’s of the world. Get to work.

Adriana Ferrell

Adriana is a first-generation American teacher living in downtown San Diego. Her ideal day includes yoga, swimming in the ocean, dinner with friends, and a concert (although she is not opposed to staying in to Netflix with her boyfriend, their two cats and pup named Marigold). Adriana is an avid traveler, bookstore aficionado, and social justice seeker.

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