Coming at you today with a stream of consciousness post! Strap in and hold on. I've had three different occasions in the past few months where the topic of success has come up with relation to working, jobs, school and life. It got my wheels turning. I'm definitely one that feels like when a subject keeps coming up, it deserves some attention.
It started when I was asked at what age I got it "figured out." The question stemmed from a conversation on degrees and working and the only thing I could say was....."I'm not sure I have things figured out." It felt like such a half assed answer and sat there under my skin and left me wondering....do I? Later, the same person was writing a paper about whether or not a degree was as important as people thought it was. Finally, I had lunch with my little sister Frances. She has been in my life for roughly 13 years. We were matched up through Big Brothers Big Sisters when she was just a little girl and she will be 23 this month (ouch). She has had a "goal job" since I first met her and is now starting to wonder if it is actually what she wants to do...leaving her feeling a bit confused and disappointed. All of this got my head spinning and looking at a younger generation and myself with regards to all of these topics.
My goal for myself career wise at a young age was to teach. I wanted to teach English to either high school or college students with an emphasis on creative writing. I loved to write myself and it just seemed like the natural choice and something I would enjoy. This never happened. Why? I never finished college and got a degree. I started community college right out of high school for financial reasons and when I was 20 years old I moved away to the east coast for a year. While I loved it, school was still very important to me and felt like something I needed to do in order to succeed with the goal I had set for myself. I knew it was something I could not do living away from home so I moved back at the age of 21. Then living at home became not an option and I was out on my own again. I had to enter the 9-5 world and make enough money to support myself. So I did that and went to school at night. I did this for quite some time and realized...it just wasn't something I wanted to do anymore. I was exhausted. I was also very happy in the job I had and went on to stay there for 10 years. Know what I was doing when I left??? Teaching. Not English, and not in a high school or college but I was teaching. Still... at times I felt like a failure. I didn't get a degree and I didn't do what I had set out to do. My reasoning...life got in the way. A terrible injury and terrible economy forced me out of that job in 2008 and I got a job in health insurance....which is what I still do today. Know what I do? I teach. I teach people how to understand health insurance and how to make the best decisions for themselves with regards to their person health insurance. It's not English, it's not in a high school or college but I am still teaching. I had a moment a couple years ago that I thought I would go back to school and get my degree and become a teacher right around when Leyton started Elementary School. I tried some night school but stopped because I was exhausted. There was life getting in the way again of my big goals leaving me feeling like a bit of a failure.
Perhaps, if I took a step back and looked at this life getting in the way I would realize that life has lead me right where I should be. I have a great job. Do I love it every day? Nope. I have days I don't want to go to work, that I think Health Insurance is the dumbest thing on this planet and I don't want to have to explain it to one more person. I'm pretty sure any job I could possibly have would have its ups and downs. Overall my job is great! I absolutely love who I work for and I do love what I do. Each time I teach someone to better understand their health insurance I am proud and walk away smiling. I also have tremendous flexibility in my job which is VERY important in my life right now. For fun I also teach water aerobics. The water is something I have always loved and I have a blast doing it. I've met some wonderful people and laughed like crazy.
It makes me think, maybe I am doing what I thought I wanted to do...I just didn't realize at that young of an age what all the possibilities were. I loved to write. I also knew I didn't ever want to write a book, so the next best thing was to teach writing. It would be a way to continue to be able to write. I loved to teach. I loved to lead people and help them discover things about themselves. I figured the only way to do this was in a classroom setting. Maybe after all these years instead of feeling disappointed at times I should feel grateful that I ended up where I should be. I get to teach, I get to write and I get to live a life that I enjoy!!!
Here's the deal, I goof off, I have fun, I like to explore, I like trying new things, I like meeting new people, I'm a hard worker, I have a strong work ethic and I'm very dedicated and reliable in all aspects of my life. So am I doing what I thought I would be doing at 18.....yes! I am teaching! I am living my life to the fullest and trying to enjoy every moment that I can. I am traveling and enjoying time with my family and friends. My goal was to never have a big 6 figure income or make as much money as possible. My goal was to ultimately do something that I love. That to me was success and I was able to achieve that!!! I think we put so much pressure on ourselves in our late teens. In some ways it is good because it kept me motivated, but I think it was important for me to realize that I was going to change. I was going to grow up and want different things and that was OK. I didn't have to have it all figured out, in fact the answer to that is I still don't have it all figured out. More importantly, I don't want to. It is what keeps me learning and keeps me wanting to explore..... and there is so much else out there to discover.
If I could teach something to the younger generation, to the Frances's of the world it would be this. Follow your dreams, but understand that dreams can change and that is OK. You may go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning realizing that there was a possibility out there you didn't even know existed. Just make sure you are happy in what you are doing! Sit back and think more about what makes you happy than what you think would make you successful. If you can find what makes you happy, and you can do that in your life, the success will come.