"What Do You Want To Be?"

Career paths seem to be a hot topic lately. [A little funny, as I'm "just" a stay-at-home mom. ;-) It's a choice this highly-educated woman is so proud of! I knew God was telling me this was the plan for my life, even when the world around me judged, "You are wasting your degree." Coming out of school over a decade ago, I had no idea my life would entail moving around so much; but I clearly see now that instead of my kids having the hometown roots I grew up with, *I* am providing the stability that they miss out on when we always change communities.]

After chatting with her daughter, my friend, Laura, blogged a list of careers *she* considered growing up, and I thought it was such a fascinating exercise! What all did y'all want to be? The first job my little brother ever wanted? Garbage man. For real. I have vivid memories of him racing to the window every time the "amazing" garbage truck came down our street. :-P My first "dream job"? Price checker at the grocery store! (You know, back before we had price scanners, and everything had little sticker prices? I wanted to be the person who went to go check on the price, if the item was w/o a sticker at the check-out! :-D)

So far, Will has wanted to be a herpetologist, train engineer, NASCAR driver, and football player. [He still wants to be all of those, to some degree.] I can see him as a judge (he loves telling people what to do & interpreting the law with his personal slant), a legislator (the first pure, uncorrupt politician ever? ;-)) b/c he loves making up rules for others, or maybe even a pastor or counselor, b/c he is the most intuitive, inquisitive, sensitive child of faith.

Annelise decided last year after her hospital stay that she wanted to be a doctor. I thought that may be a passing fancy, but no. The only update incorporates her passion for animals - she now wants to be a vet. I know every kid seems to want to be a vet at some point, but it wouldn't surprise me if she really does one day! This kid is truly an animal whisperer. I also would not be surprised if she ended up being a massage therapist - she is the most tactile person I've ever encountered.

I stressed out over jobs when I was little; I had a very unhealthy fear (*completely self-imposed*!!! I grew up comfortably!) of being financially unstable, (I even hoarded my allowance!) so I wouldn't let myself consider my passions (the arts) as "real" careers. At some point around 3rd grade, it was drilled into my head that "playing school" was not as good as "playing law firm". My BFF at the time started this notion, and I think my parents thought it was worthy of encouragement...but from that point on, it became my de facto reply to, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "I'm going to go to Davidson for college, Duke for law school, and be a lawyer." As I became more passionate about musical theatre, I edited to add: "I'm going to Davidson for college and Duke for law school. Then I'm going to New York to try Broadway, and if it doesn't work out, I'll have a solid law career to fall back on." I have to admit, it makes me a little queasy now typing that out. I can't tell you how many times I told that to be people from 4th grade into even my sophomore year at Davidson! I was at the top of my class, and it's what everyone expected of me, so I told them what they wanted to hear. [For clarification: I didn't feel like I was lying to anyone or even myself; but I just didn't know what else I should do.] I found a way to twist my interests into my college class choices - sociology classes for criminology, theatre classes for trial presentation, my year abroad in Germany to open the door to the UN and international law...but it was sitting in a phone booth in the basement of my German apartment building, trying to figure out when to do LSAT prep when I'd get back to the US, that I admitted to myself for real that none of that would make me happy. [FWIW: that *was* a scary revelation! Talk about leaving my comfort zone of academic achievement!!!]

Since I've battled those personal, self-imposed, irrational career notions, I want to actively fight against my kids feeling the same. If one says today they want to be a chef, I won't say, "But Honey, the hours are awful - you're working while everyone else is out at restaurants enjoying themselves; and you don't get to make what YOU want, only what they tell you to." I'll just ask what they'd want to cook! The negatives can come up down the road, if they get serious, but I'm not squashing their initial notions right off the bat. That hurts. Even (esp.?) when you're young. A teacher? I'd ignore the paltry pay & dealing with crazy kids; I'd encourage them in having one of the greatest impacts possible on young lives.

All the placating (of others & myself) that I did seems RIDICULOUS now, b/c post-graduation, I have *ONLY* done things I thought I couldn't/wouldn't:

* teaching high school - I wasn't annoyed by hooligan kids; I relished being a "favorite teacher" and really helping these kids learn.

* teaching dance - I would've never let myself consider, b/c of the pay & low hours; but it was more fulfilling than anything I'd ever done up to that point in my life!

* teaching Zumba - anyone who only knew me in high school would totally scoff, "You don't have the body type for that!" Ha ha! I look better now than I did then! :-D I'm stronger, healthier, and feel more beautiful! How many other mid-30's can say that??? (Actually, I hope a lot! Come to Zumba! ;-))

The girl who grew up irrationally constrained by the idea of not making enough money has made virtually none, and it hasn't mattered! [Don't you just love how God's perfect plans usually turn all of yours on their heads? :-P] I needed a priority check earlier on: true value & success should be measured by the lives you positively impact, not by your paycheck. God provided me with the perfect partner in JB; I love my life, and it's turned out for the best. ...But there are times I wish I could go back & tell Middle- or High-School-Me not to worry about the future, b/c if you pray about it, God will make sure the desires of your heart are fulfilled. Even as "just" a SAHM, I get:
* my love of performing = singing in church and dance/Zumba
* my love of photo layouts (I was editor of the yearbook :-)) = digital scrapbooking, MOPS newsletter, & Junior League web design
* my love of leadership = MOPS leadership & Junior League council
* wanting to bless others & improve lives = every child I've ever taught, helping moms through MOPS, charity work through Junior League, and now through my Zumba ministry


  1. As someone who had their enginerd dad pushing/shoving/encouraging them to be an enginerd since I was little, I totally get the whole concept of doing what makes *you* happy, and not just doing it because a person of influence is telling you to do it. I am lucky that I do like being an enginerd, but I never felt like there was another option for me.

    When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be an architect (not far from an enginerd!). Then I did a career report in middle school, and I chose architect, and two types of enginerd. I learned that architecture is a pretty unstable profession and the pay was relatively low compared to enginerds (I saw it as financial security, not "rich"...I really was born middle-aged!), so I switched and never looked back. I had my moments in undergrad when I questioned what I was doing, but it all worked out in the end. :)

    Here's a great quote from a friend of mine: "Never confuse being rich with being wealthy. Wealth is having your time to yourself and being able to enjoy it fully."

    Life is too short to chase after huge salaries and power/control. As long as you/you+SO can support yourselves and live within your means, and have saved money for emergencies/retirement, etc, then Carpe Diem!

  2. Yep - my money fears *always* stemmed from wanting financial security over wealth. I've never dreamed of a monetarily "rich" life...which even now drives JB nuts - he can't stand the idea of ever being "content". :-P

    I've just learned there's a more important measuring stick for success in life than just your pay grade. :-)

  3. I wanted to be a garbage person too. Sad but true. Until I was told that only *boys* could become garbage *men*. Then I changed my preference and wanted to be a bride. How sad is that? The feminist in me cringes.


  4. Susie, what you posted you wanted to become when you were little, is, to a certain extent, me now. Just like you, ever since I could remember I wanted to be a lawyer. It was cultivated in me since I was 5, by my parents, and I became completely consummed by it. For me, I guess it stuck. I became a lawyer in my home country, worked for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, then came to the US, and after debating whether I should take the same path, I had a baby, experienced the SAHM road, and decided it was not for me. Therefore, I became a lawyer in the US.

    It is interesting how our stories match in the reverse. I could never feel I had accomplished my full potential if I had not chosen this difficult path. I could be a SAHM if I wanted, my husband makes enough to live contently, but I would always feel like I was not an equal partner, contributor, voice. Furthermore, as I love my husband very much, I would want to be in his world, for him to be proud of my position, and be respected for marrying an equal. I understand you have none of these concerns, and I think that's great. However, without desiring to cause any controversy, my inquiring mind wants to know: do I sense perhaps a scintilla of regret, because you seem to list all of your accomplishments up to the decision of what really made you happy? You go through the list proudly, and for someone who doesn't know you personally, but only through the postings in this blog, it sounds like you are maybe trying to justify your choices a little bit. Again, not trying to cast any shadow on a great blog, which I read for relaxation over a cup of coffee or tea, just a question that I, as a devout reader, would like answered.


  5. Silke - ich kann es kaum glauben - du als *nur* eine Braut. :-P Aber Frauen dürfen Müllwerker sein, oder???

    Ciao, Daniela! Regrets? Absolutely not. Not a bit in any aspect, except for the fact that I stressed myself into that pigeon hole growing up. I never had a passion for law - it was just the ONLY career I ever suggested that my mom didn't shoot down, and it was acceptable for a smart girl, so I went with it, until I had the guts to realize I could break the mold. :-) I *do* feel the need to justify my life path ever so often, though, for a couple of reasons: First, I do feel like I need to stand up for myself against the notions that SAHMs can't be truly equal partners; I don't want anyone to ever think I'm just JB's arm candy. :-P Secondly, I like telling my entire life story so that people understand me better and can relate to me more completely. I used to take for granted that people understood my background as we moved around; but I was wrong. 3 moves ago, I had my group of friends, whom I had worked with in MOPS for 2 years at that point, be completely floored that *I* considered law school - like that was so far removed from their image of me. ("OMG! You would've been Elle in 'Legally Blonde'!") To be honest, that really bothered me; just b/c I have chosen not to become a professional in the business world doesn't mean I'm not proud of my education. Does that make sense? I put forth my honest perky, sunshiney personality, and some people do not equate that kind of pep with intelligence; so I do feel the need to proudly list my accomplishments every once in a while, so that people get the complete, well-rounded, accurate picture of who I am. :-)


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