This post was originally shared on November 17, 2014.
A few months back, after several cosmos with my parents with whom I was spending the weekend, I found a box of old yearbooks and compilations from my childhood stored in the back of my old bedroom closet. A voice in the back of my head was screaming "NOOOO" but the cosmos got the best of me.
I dug through and found this short story I had written in first grade that was bound and set by "Willard Elementary School Publishing Group". Although the story was short, sweet and about my sister Courtney, clearly, a better novel than Twilight, the last page was an "About the Author" tidbit that offered up a brief autobiography of 6 yr old Margaret. It read:
"Margaret is a First Grade Student at Willard Elementary School. She enjoys spending time playing with her mom and her dog. She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up."
I feel like I just played "Two Truths & and Lie" with my past. First, the only truly accurate statement is what grade I was in at the time. Of course, I enjoyed playing with my mom but I had as much fun with my dad so I'm not sure why I cut him out of this, but more importantly, I DIDN'T HAVE A DOG!!!!
When I read this a few months ago, this was the one line in the entire book that caught me off guard. Who proofed this? I was notoriously allergic to any and all fluffy bundles of fur and the only dogs allowed on our wood floor were made out of polyester and stuffing. Now, when I questioned my parents about this my dad simply said from behind his sudoku book, "Oh yeah, we told you the dog at the Inn we would stay at in up north was yours and you believed us. You would play with it there or make believe it was here when you played outside. No big deal. You had fun!"
Oh, ok, cooooool. So most of my childhood, I lived in a land of make believe in which I had a dog and told others I had a dog...table for One Crazy Kid!
I can get past that though and one day, mark my word, I will have my own dog and it will be real! Maybe I'll name her Karma, have her poop on people's lawns and then just say "man, that Karma's a real bitch sometimes!" (Honestly, I just thought of that on the fly and even my own wit surprises me! Inspired!)
The last part of that autobiography is the one that frequently pops back into my head. Not the fact that I want to be a veterinarian and I've missed my once calling, but the "what do you want to be when you grow up?" It's a question we ask to many children as we try to mold them into the little human beings they are. What box can we put them in and ship them off onto the right path? But, after 26 years, I'm 95% UPS has lost my package. I've had more job ideas than Rachel had hairstyles on Friends.
After Legally Blonde, I wanted to be a lawyer/politician, taking it as far as our states division of Youth & Government at the capital in Hartford and getting my bill passed after arguing for hours with Connecticut's dullest and most non-original "youths" ever. Elle Wood's would not have tolerated it!
After J-Lo's wonderful job in The Wedding Planner, planning the dream weddings for friends and clients just ended in a pre-Pinterest scrapbook of clippings from magazines and tears over a young, sexy Matthew McConaughey.
And then who could forget hoping that a long-lost grandmother would just show up declaring you heir to the throne of some mysterious country in Europe in The Princess Diaries. That would be a job and a lifestyle change all in one big career move across the world. Room and board included.
So where does that leave me?
I grew up with friends who had consistently answered that question with the same answer every year. Hell, my 9 year old nephew has wanted to be the same thing, a cinnamon bun baker and shop owner, since he was 3. Don't question B, he's got a solid plan and work ethic with secret ingredients. His response when I asked if he would hire me to help out was, "Maybe. I'll have to conduct an interview when the time comes." The kid knows exactly what he wants and how he can get it done. Simple.
Me, on the other hand, would be lucky if I even got him to call me back for an interview. I'm always so amazed by the people who set out to be something specific and then achieved it. Was it worth it? Have they achieved extra happiness FTW points somewhere? Someone report back.
Sure, being a veterinarian, lawyer, wedding planner, or hell, even a princess, seem like a great life path, but they don't feel like me. (Although, if Prince Harry is still looking, I am still available and of English bloodline!) I try to make it a point to ask people I meet what they do for a living, with the hopes that the lightbulb above my head will explode when someone says the right word. After spending hours looking for other jobs online to maybe encourage me to find another path, I'm not wow'd with what is out there. I'm blessed to have the job I have now. I enjoy it and take pride in what I do. Does it change the world, probably not, but I get to spend most of my day making others happy with themselves, in turn, making me happy. And that's more than I can say for the jobs I've had previously.
Now, what's the next step?
Obviously, I do aspire to grow as an individual and in the position I am at now, there probably isn't much room for growth. So I've learned to look elsewhere. What do I enjoy about my job? What do I enjoy about my time away from work? What do I enjoy about spending time with friends and family? What have I enjoyed my entire life that could now, combined with all of my experience, meld into the perfect path for me?
Well, you're reading it. I've learned to love writing and reaching people in ways more like talking with an old friend than a formal meeting. I've always been known for the "chatty girl", so why not embrace it. Since I can remember, I was always the girl who settled arguments on the playground, talked through boy problems with girlfriends after school, had heart to hearts with clients-turned-friends in the fitting rooms at work. I can't help it, I promise I don't have a tattoo on my forehead that says "TELL ME EVERYTHING!" And let me tell you, some of the stuff I hear, I wish I could forget.
But genuinely, I enjoy helping people. I enjoy hearing what makes your day awesome or absolutely terrible. I enjoy hearing why Karen is "the ultimate worst friend ever" and help you find ways to overcome and build that friendship. I enjoy playing devil's advocate to inspire you to try something that scares you and puts you out of your comfort zone, all within reason. I love seeing you perk up with the right outfit and how suddenly a change in wardrobe can change how you feel about yourself. I love fighting that demon that tells you that you're not good, pretty, perfect enough, because sometimes we all need someone else in our corner to tap in and take that extra punch.
I'm lucky enough to have had people in my life to pick me up when I've been down, who loved me through every tear, to fight my demons when I couldn't and I want to repay the world for that. I want to be that person for the many who need someone just to listen, without judgement, and help guide. I want to be more than a therapist, life coach, mentor, but more importantly, a friend to those who need an extra shoulder. I want to continue to write my adventures out and share them with my world. If it makes you laugh a little harder, think a bit deeper, give you the courage to take that breath and admit your past, go for it. Whatever enjoyment I can provide people, it is my pleasure!
Now, erase the picture the idea of a gorgeous couch, pictured in a large window in a lovely loft apartment downtown. Although, that will be around for my office eventually, I'd love to run a practice that's more on the go. Where do you feel comfortable? At home, sure, just make coffee. Walking through the park, that sounds lovely. Window shopping up Fifth Avenue, absolutely. I think it's important for me to make people comfortable first before any walls come down. What do you like to do with your friends? Let's do that! There is no way that I can expect people to open up and share their past, if they aren't in a place of safety. Of course though, my office will be spectacular and home to The Bachelor Monday's or Game Day Sundays, all are welcome!
In these 26 years of my life, I've always found great pleasure in talking to anyone and everyone about who they are. I'd love to spend the rest of my life continuing this passion and eventually, with MY dog!