This past weekend I had an awesome phone date with one of my oldest and dearest friends. We have known each other since we were in grade school and even though years and miles have separated us, I’m so very lucky that we’ve remained as close now as we were back when we were jamming to Hanson and rocking some serious scrunchies. The 90’s were the best, weren’t they? As we were reminiscing about the past and getting caught up on each of our presents, we hit on the topic of where we thought we would be now in life as opposed to where we actually are, both in terms of careers, relationships, travel goals. etc. We both couldn’t believe how different out lives had turned out, not necessarily worse or better, just so very different than what we imagined as kids.
As children, we often imagine what we want to be when we grow up, who we want to become, where we want to one day live and whether or not we want a family. According to the game MASH, I was going to marry Jason Kopp (the boy who I majorly crushed on all throughout elementary school), drive a Jeep and live in a cottage on the lake with our three kids and two dogs.
We would often be asked in school by our teachers who we wanted to be, what we wanted to do. One week I wanted to be a teacher, the next a counselor, and once I even wanted to be a taste-tester for Ben & Jerry’s. Correction; I still want to be a taste-tester for Ben & Jerry’s. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it, right?
By the time I reached college, I knew what I wanted to do. Finally.
I took all the right classes and got all the right internships so that I would be able to find a job straight out of college. After four years I received my Bachelors in Consumer Psychology with an emphasis in Advertising and Marketing. Graduation came and went and I set out to Milwaukee where I got not only my first big-girl job, but my dream job working in an entry-level position at an ad agency.
I had it all. The cushy job, (I even had my own business cards!), my very first apartment, and the exhilaration that comes with being young 20-something girl living in the big city.
Though I was reaching all my career goals I made for myself at 18 years old, I had never felt so lost. I knew deep down I had no passion for the job I spent 40 plus hours stressing out over. It wasn’t until my mom asked me point blank if I was happy with my life. I was about to give the obligatory “Yes, of course I am!” when I decided to finally be honest with myself and admit I was not happy.
A month later I quit my job and moved back home to pursue something that I actually enjoyed doing. I wish I could say that my journey ended there. But life isn’t that simple.
My Plan B was not something that was going to happen overnight. So I spent a lot of time and effort trying to work towards my new career. I figured it would all happen right away, and when it didn’t I was left very disappointed. Unfortunately, my plan ended up being more of a failure then a fresh start like I had hoped. Up until this point in my life, I had never failed at anything, so this was a huge blow to my ego. I started to let the failures get the best of me, which lead to comparing my life to those around me.
I had no idea how I was going to dig myself out of the hole I had dug for myself. It was then that I realized we have to fail sometimes in order to get on the right path. That path lead me to a Plan C and I now know the direction I want my life to go in. I realized it wasn’t so much about the job I had, but the person I wanted to be. I wanted to be able to do a job that I could be proud of. I may not have become a teacher, a counselor or a Ben & Jerry’s taste-tester (fingers still crossed on that one) like I wanted to be as a kid, but I realized I have always loved books and wanted to help people. If I can inspire just one person, to get them to see the world in a different way, to connect with a story, I am happy and know that all the hardship so far has been worth it.
Besides my job, a lot of things haven’t panned out according to that game of MASH I played so long ago. At 28, I am still very much single. I am living in an apartment in the heart of Denver and I drive a VW bug, not a Jeep. My twelve-year old self, heck, my twenty-year old self had a picture of me as this world traveler (I have yet to even go outside of the country), living this fabulous Sex in the City life style (but without the fashion sense because let’s face it, even my twelve-year old self knew jeans and t-shirts would always be more my game). I may not be flying on private jets to Paris every weekend, or romancing the Mr. Biggs of the world, but you know what, my life is pretty fabulous as is.
In fact, it’s pretty great.
If life isn’t going as you planned it is okay. One day you are going to wake up and realize you are exactly where you want to be and can’t believe you made it there in one piece. I am still working on my Plan C, and I’m sure life will throw another curve ball my way and a Plan D will take its place. At least now I know it is okay for our dreams and goals to change because it just means we are growing up.
And do we ever really stop growing up?