As I child I loved those very intricate coloring books with Escher-esque patterns. Considering all those shades and placing marker to paper was meditation for me. Watching the image bloom into color generated in me a feeling of quiet satisfaction.
When I learned there was no such profession as a professional color-er, my heart sank. Now what? Around the same time, I joined my local library’s young reader’s book group, and learned that stories offered me the same quiet satisfaction. Cracking open a book, running my fingers along the rough-cut edges, and losing myself in a story was pure bliss for me. The noisy, extroverted togetherness of school didn’t mesh with my quiet nature, but sitting in a group of like-minded kids discussing The Bridge to Terabithia made me feel comfortable and most like my real self. Enter creative writing around fifth grade, and I’d found my niche: writing, art, and reading.
My first real job after college was working as an editorial assistant at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. I wrote a feature article about the man who invented the urine dipstick, I copyedited, I worked with the publisher to re-size images. Then this thing called the Internet came along, and I knew that I needed to get on the bandwagon. I quit my editorial assistant job and took an HTML bootcamp. Not long after that, I landed a job as a online research coordinator with the health policy think tank that I still work at over 11 years later.
My official title is Associate Director of Web Development and Production. When people ask what I do, I tell them that I’m a web project manager. I work with the creatives to develop the pretty stuff, and I meet with the squints who understand the technical aspects of a project and make sure that projects get done. “Getting her done” involves keeping tabs on lots of moving parts, gentle or firm reminders to team members about deadlines, and productivity apps like Evernote and Trello. As a parent, my job isn’t too dissimilar, except my moving parts are a tech-geek husband , a perspicacious six-year-old, and a toddler obsessed with power surge protectors.
But what I do and who I am differ, and when I meet new people I try to mention my masters in writing, letting them know that I’m also a creative soul. I wanted to be a writer and an artist and a thinker when I grew up. At 39, I find myself ready to write those words and create those images instead of managing the people who do. I AM a grown up, but now I ready to grow into myself.