Embarking On The Unknown; A Career Path

At the age of 16 or 17 most kids have to start thinking about and actually decide what field they want to be in for work. This, of course, is the whole college selection journey that begins with picking a school, a minor, and a major. In the end the hope is obviously that a job will come along in said field. Some teenagers have a solid conviction of what they’ve always wanted to be, but it’s typical to be pretty clueless. It’s only a decision that impacts the rest of your life, but you’ve been on the planet 16 years…so….you’ve got this.  You have to start to hone in on what you think you might like to do all day, while also getting paid a decent wage. Those things don’t necessarily go together, but nonetheless, at the wise age of 16 we dive into our best guess.

***

My bedroom was painted royal blue. I had a thing for the color blue back then. The ceiling was smothered with Rolling Stone magazine covers end to end. I absolutely loved Mark Saliger’s photos. I poured over the Rolling Stone interviews imagining that someday I would be the author to many music legend interviews. I wondered what I wanted to do with my life and often stared up at my ceiling hoping I would some day end up at Rolling Stone. I decided that since writing was something I loved and I got good grades in that subject, I’d be best at a journalism. I also remember thinking that whatever I majored in, I’d have to make sure there was as little math involved as possible. Legitimately, that was a concern for me since math never was my strong suit.

I started out at community college due to finances. My dream had been to go to the University of Southern California, but I quickly realized that picking a college simply because I wanted to go there was a luxury that was not in the cards.  When I signed up for our local community college, I felt disenchanted. My dreams of moving away to Cali had been pushed aside. In my mind, I had big plans for myself. One year later, I ended up attending a university in Illinois about 4 hours from home.

One afternoon, I visited the placement office at community college to nail down a major. The office was filled with shelves of books about every possible occupation under the sun. I went and thumbed through a couple, finally settling in on Public Relations Specialist. 

I read the description over and over and looked at the average salary of $70,000 a year.

“Wow, that is SO much money.” The wheels were in serious motion in my head, “I’ll be rich!” I was sure I was going to be poppin’ bottles with P. Diddy and J. Lo. The words in job description bounced up and down on the page with excitement right at me. Media, Radio, Television, Writing, Celebrity, Top Executives, Relationships, Communication. Whatever this job description was selling, I was buying with all of the tip money in my pocket.  It all sounded so glamourous! $70K to my 18 year old self also sounded like a million dollars, ah, how things change…but I digress.

It listed the majors and minors  for this type of role. And guess what? There was hardly any math involved.  I signed up to major in journalism with a minor in marketing. I felt my planning was thorough since I had a plan A and a plan B. Plan A would be to try to become a writer for Rolling Stone, while plan B would be the PR Specialist gig that had dazzled me dizzy. I knew I would minor in marketing because it had been my father’s major and he had turned out successful, so why not? That was the amount of thought I put into my minor.  I chose it blindly with a whole lot of gusto.

Basically that describes my entire decision making process- from start to finish.

I loved my classes, there was just one smidgeon of a problem. While in my journalism class we were writing about Princess Diana’s death that had been all over the news. The professor went on at length about the long hours journalists put in, the sometimes life or death situations,  and the right and wrong decisions they’d have to make in certain circumstances (case in point with Diana). I was riveted and wondered if my job at Rolling Stone would be that way. I committed in my mind to do whatever it took. But it was something else he said that changed my course right then and there-literally.

“Who in this class loves writing?” He had a deep voice that carried out of the class and into the hallway.

“OK, now who in this class wants to make money in this profession?” His wry smile curled.

This next part I am paraphrasing; I cannot remember his exact words.

“Those who kept your hands up for the second question need to change your majors right now. You will be poor as a journalist. This is a fact unless you strike gold somehow. I will spell it out for you folks- you will barely make enough money to live and you will work like a dog. You have to live, breathe, and die by writing, accepting that you will likely not make much money.”

I changed my major that following week. I had watched my mom work her butt off and struggle as a hairdresser ever since her and my Dad divorced. In addition to that, my Dad had dropped a scary amount of weight when the real estate market took a nose dive in the mid eighties. For many months,  when we’d stay at his condo,  we’d have fish sticks with ketchup for dinner during that ailing time in his career. I didn’t want to live on fish sticks if I had anything to do about it. Money struggles legitimately scared me, and I would need to pick something that was more reliable. So I said goodbye to my dream of writing. I chose to major in Communications and Human Relations, which I was still pretty happy with.

In the end, I feel fortunate. I ended up picking a major that was right for me and has served me well since it lends itself to many career paths (and there was no math).

If I could change one thing, it would likely have been my minor in marketing. I think I should have minored in English Lit or something else specific to writing. Then again, maybe without that emphasis in marketing I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of working for one of the best marketing firms around. It was an incredibly fun learning experience  and was chock full of good people and amazing volunteer opportunities. I do wonder if I didn’t have that minor of marketing on my resume, would I have gotten that job? I remember the head hunter setting me up for the interview (as a temporary receptionist) and mentioning it was good that I had that on my resume. I did end up getting asked to interview for an Executive Assistant role there while temping, which then lead me to an Account Executive role and later a Sr. Account Executive position.  I guess you never know where your path will lead you!

Along the course of different positions I’ve had over the years at various companies, I can say that I’ve pinned down what I dislike: spreadsheets and data entry. Does anyone like this? If you do, bless your heart. I’ve also come to know what I’m not so good at; being analytical. A double whammy of things I loathe was putting analytical data into spreadsheets. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. It felt like I was dying a slow death. Now imagine putting data into a system that was 14 years old that crashed all the time. OK,  I’ll stop now. I can already tell you feel my pain.

What have I learned that I am sharing with you? Ask your teenagers what they like to do, what they could do for years to come without tiring of it, what their weaknesses are, and what they know they despise doing.  It’s impossible for them to narrow it down perfectly since they haven’t had enough life experience or job experience yet, but I do believe it will still help.

If you’ve been out of school now for quite sometime and are looking to overhaul your professional life like I just did-ask yourself those same questions. Realistically, if you’re like me and have a family to support, there will be different variables to weigh in your decision making process.

I’m going to be forty in a year and a half. In my opinion, it took me way too long to figure out the things I should have run the opposite direction from job wise. Lean into your strengths even if it means you won’t get a handsome financial reward. Sure I’ve had to compromise and downsize a bit, but there’s no price tag on happy.

When I think back to what my professor said that day, I wonder if I hadn’t listened to it how things would be different. It’s not a feeling of regret at all, it’s just curiosity. It’s apparent that the writing landscape has definitely changed.  After the 19 years of job and life experience I’ve had since that day, I’ve learned that there are many different options.

It  helps to look into your options, think about them, ask people about their professions, etc. You can still do the things you enjoy without being paid for them.  I am able to be a writer today just for fun.  The fact that writing, people, and creativity are actively part of my life makes me feel richer than ever, even if in the dollar sense that’s not the case.

“The greatest wealth is to live content with little, for there is never want where the mind is satisfied.”- Lucretius

 

 

 

 

 

The Liebster Award – 2017

It’s really cool to find out you’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award. I found out about it serendipitously on a Friday just after I had walked in the door after a long week at work. I threw the door open, dramatically let my bags slide down my arms to the floor, squeezed the cherubs, and complained to my husband about my day. Plopping down to rifle through the mail on the kitchen table, I grabbed my phone instead and read that I had been nominated for this award.  My stress evaporated!

The Liebster Award is an internet award given to bloggers by other bloggers. Liebster is a German word meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, and valued. The award is meant to be inspirational. It’s purpose is to motivate bloggers in achieving their goals and pushing forward with their writing. I’d like to express my gratitude to @halfchocolateblog for nominating this blog!

Part of being nominated means that I must answer the 5 questions asked by @halfchocolateblog. They are listed below.

1.) What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve loved to write ever since I was a skinny, dirty kneed, tom-boyish 8 year old. Any time I had the opportunity to take an elective class in high school or college, I always chose a writing course. While I can’t pinpoint something specific that inspired me, I think it has a gravitational pull on me because it taps into my creative side.  This is immensely fulfilling  and brings direct sunlight into my being. Anything involving some sort of thoughtful expression whether it be painting, crafting, writing, dancing, or decorating soothes my soul to the core.

2.) Which is your favorite post on your blog?

My favorite post so far on my personal blog is actually my first one called Go With Your Gut. It is about my inability to trust myself, which resulted in me allowing others to make important decisions for me; decisions that inevitably put me in danger. Read it here.

3.) Who is your favorite fictional character? Why is he/she your favorite?

Lyra Belacqua from the “His Dark Materials” trilogy by Philip Pullman is an incredible fictional character. She endures many life-threatening adventures, the disillusionment of her parents, the loss of people she loved dearly, all while trying to cling to hope and keep moving along in life. It’s a fantasy story with magic, different worlds, time travel, witches, and talking animals. I absolutely love it and love Lyra.

4.) If a genie grants you three wishes, what would you wish for and why?

Well, first of all, this would be really great right about now. Genie, Genie, where for art thou?

Wish #1.) A cul de sac of about 20 houses on it where all of my favorite people in the world spend their summers. My “summer” house would also be on said cul de sac.

Wish #2.) World Peace. In a nutshell: no more hunger, no more terrorism, no more gun violence (or how about just no more guns period), no kidnapping, no sex slavery, no abuse, no tyrants, endless funding for research and resources to heal our global warming crisis, an end to all hate groups big and small, and the respectful treatment of animals-both domesticated and wild. Is that asking too much? That might count for like 10 wishes right there.

Wish #3.) Money to grow on flowers, bushes, and trees in my backyard. It would only grow on the flowers, bushes, and trees that I took care of though. This would be an incentive for me to really try to get better at becoming a green thumb because I stink at it. It just feels more fun to be rich when it’s earned right? That way I’d sort of still be earning it.

5.) What are the 5 things you can’t imagine your day without?

Morning hugs from my two sons, ridiculous off the wall texts from my husband, dancing in the kitchen just before we have dinner, and a cookie of some kind (don’t judge, yes I have a cookie like every day). That’s four positively awesome things I can’t imagine my day without, but I’m going to sneak one unfun thing in here because it’s real life. I stress every day about how I can make my professional life be as fulfilling as my personal life. I’d love for that stress to someday not be there.  I can’t imagine how wonderful it will feel one day when that’s gone. And it will be… someday!

And now here are the lovely and talented bloggers I would like to nominate for the Liebster Award.  Congrats and good luck to you!

1.) Sarah Shard – http://www.wearewit.com/blog/

2.) Jade Unal –https://www.thewondrousworldofyou.co.uk/blog

3.) Kara Headley-www.kjdinspirationcreations.com

4.) Cher Gilroy-https://blazingbutterfly.wordpress.com/

5.) Rahul Ashok-https://naturescapewithme.blogspot.fi/

6.) Kelly Peters –https://kellypetersphotography.co.uk

7.) Sanjoli Jain- https://sanjoli17.blogspot.in/2017/07/

8.) Andi Stevenson – http://intothecity.me/

9.) Mary G Suycano – http://www.gracefulmusings.xyz/

10.) Charlene Bullard – https://faithtoraisenate.com/

Please answer the following questions and tag me in your post so I can read your answers. Thank you and I look forward to reading what you have to say!

1.) If you were stranded on an island, if you could make 3 things magically appear, what would they be?

2.) What drives you to keep writing?

3.) Who is your favorite author and why?

4.) What is the one task in life you dislike the most and why?

5.) What 3 experiences have shocked you the most in your life thus far?

Happy writing everyone…enjoy!

 

On Writing

Some insight into why writing feels right…

Everyone’s story is different. For that reason, there is something so satisfying about indulging in a good biography.  Fiction and non-fiction narratives that tell stories of the character’s arc are forever fascinating for the human mind. We can learn from someone else’s experiences; empathizing, marveling, relating, or grieving while reading what they’ve suffered, lost, overcome, or endured. As someone who thoroughly enjoys hearing and reading about others’ lives whether it’s over a beer, a coffee, a blog, or pages of a book, I discovered there is much to be enjoyed when writing about life as well.

I’ve always kept a journal. My parents gave me my first one at the age of 7. You could say there’s enough material to write at least 3 books!  Whether or not they’d be interesting is debatable. But I did take some time over the last few days to read through them and wow…what a trip. The details are long forgotten. That’s why writing in a journal is key should you ever want to harken back to the days of your youth.  Let me tell you-it zaps  you right inside that very moment that would have otherwise been lost in the Bumbletown of your waning memory.

In my mid-twenties I took a memoir writing course and when the class ended my professor made me promise to someday write a book about my life.  She also mentioned that if it never came to fruition, to always keep writing.  Her advice has long hung out in my conscience. She also warned it was probably best to write a memoir prior to having children because time would be scarce. She had written her book with two small children and cautioned it was tough to do so. Well, I didn’t listen to her and damn was she right. At any rate,  my chance at writing did eventually show up, even if in an unexpected way.

In 2009, I started a Facebook group for working moms. I wanted to meet other moms to build relationships and coordinate play dates on the weekends. Fast forward to early 2016 when an editor of an online blogging publication www.suburbanmisfitmom.com posted an ad in my working moms group looking for writers. A few weeks later my first and very personal article was published on my inconsistent childhood read it here.

There was a crazy waterfall of emotions that occurred when my first article had been published. I was sitting in morning rush hour traffic when the “You’ve Been Published” notification came through. Just picture Diane Lane in that bus scene in the movie Unfaithful. That was me.

Instead of dipping my toe in, I dove head first and opened up in the only way I know how when I write. It was scary but exhilarating.

Following the high of being published came the mystery of how certain people interacted with me after reading about my personal not-so-sunny experiences. Surprisingly,  whether they are close to you, an acquaintance, or a complete stranger- each reaction is different and some are not even close to what you would expect. Sometimes it’s confusing and off-putting and other times it’s gratifying and motivating. Either way, writing felt right regardless of some of the mixed reactions.

As the reader, when reading autobiographical content, I try to keep in mind that this is the writer’s experience. This is their truth and their life.  On the other hand, as the writer, you have to remember that people will interpret things in a completely different way than you meant them to and they will also project their own stuff onto it whether you like it or not.  This projection will then lead them to act in confusing ways towards you. Lord knows I’ve spent many midnights in an anxiety ridden sweat fest over-analyzing this very thing. This is the part no one can prepare you for as the writer.  I certainly wasn’t prepared for it, and I contemplated not continuing writing for a beat or two because of it.

Thankfully, I ended up pushing the nerves of vulnerability aside. Why? Because I honestly feel writing is a necessary thing for me.   Also, who wouldn’t want a hobby that feels right, makes the brain feel like it’s being put to good use, and that has the ability to  help people?

This is one of the most fulfilling hobbies. I feel just as giddy when I write as I do when I take a dance class. For example, in my article about getting lost and happy , I discuss the immense gratification I get from dancing and putting my creative side to work.  This very same feeling transpires when I write. To have connected with these two passions and made them part of my weekly routine -this is living life.

tumblr_ocy5tujkwc1uhao5bo1_500

Writing is also therapeutic for me in many ways. It’s a connection to people and a way to show why I have an appreciation for my life that runs deep. The foundation for many of my writings is derived from an epiphany I had after becoming a mom. I came to the stark realization that I would and will do everything in my power to give my children a better experience. This means throwing out the script. ERASE AND REBOOT.  It also means I have to unlearn a lot. That’s not going to be easy. But writing about my unlearnings  will be interesting for me to say the least.

keanu

There’s an appreciation transaction that occurs every day that I pull into my little white ranch with my beloved testosterone-filled family.  The reason that transaction even takes place is because of  the bumpy road I pedaled on to get there.   Most of the time, the stuff that really hurts us, is the stuff that allows us to grow into who we are.  I am choosing to use the cuts that may have a lingering sting as a source to better this life in the NOW. And so far, at least today, it’s a feel good story.