Thursday, October 06, 2005

Doing something REALLY BIG

So Beth wrote a post on Tuesday entitled “Calling” and when I read it, it was almost as if I could have written certain parts of it myself. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who feels this way – and I’m especially glad that it’s Beth that does, because she’s often the barometer that I measure myself against. Why? Because we have been friends for nearly 24 years, and we are so alike in some ways that it’s eerie – which I attribute to the fact that we were almost inseparable from the time we were six until the time we were 14, so personalities mesh and quirks rub off. Luckily we both rock, so it worked out just fine…

Beth and I were the overachievers of our elementary school. Perfect grades, always at least a grade level ahead in all things English, winners of spelling bees, teachers’ pets, involved in every school-related activity possible. We used to get so bored that we’d do our homework and put the other one’s name on it, knowing the grade would be the same anyway. We were confident and self-assured, because we had never had a reason to doubt that we were what everyone said we were. “Those two,” our teachers would say “are going to go far.” And that assertion followed us throughout our academic careers. We were going to do something REALLY BIG with our lives.

BUT, even though I was always so smart and so this and so that and encouraged to get a big education and be something fabulous and memorable, in the back of my mind, I never really wanted that. I have always wanted to be a mom. I want to stay home with my kids and do stuff with them like my mom did with me. I want to be involved in their lives and encourage THEM to do great things. Journalism was not for me -- I cannot intrude on people's grief like I would be expected to for the sake of a story. I just can't. And while I am enjoying getting my masters degree (because, let's face it, I like school), I can't see myself as an Executive Director of an NPO -- even though my teachers insist I'd be great. Don't get me wrong -- I would love to be fabulous in the eyes of everyone -- I love the attention. But in reality, I'd like to be fabulous like Beth is -- with a good life full of love and doing the things she wants to do.

Beth says that basically, she’s short on career ambition. I too am short on career ambition. Way short. I think part of it may be that we never had to HAVE any ambition, because everything came so easily. The only competition we had was each other, and since we were best friends we never really cared about beating the other one -- we were satisfied with smugly achieving much higher in everything than every other kid in our class. College was a huge blow to me because for the first time ever, I had to actually exert some effort in order to do well, and I realized that I just didn't feel like it. I only like school if it includes only things I am interested in. I have yet to find a degree in “Stick drawings, song lyric knowledge, lettering and general arts and crafts.” But if there WAS one? I’d have a Ph.D.

Since I've been job hunting this time around, I've had an experience that I've never had before. I am looking at things first for if I would be happy doing it, and second, for the money. Granted, there's a limit, what with the mortgage and all, but I'm actually surprised at my willingness to take a substantial pay cut to be happy in my job. I never thought that that would be me, since I have an almost devastating love for shopping of all sorts. Not Boyfriend and I were talking about it the other night and he's like "what would your perfect job be?" And I named a couple of things that I think I'd love to do, and he said "do it then -- all you need is a start and people will see that you're good at what you do." He's right, but that's way scary for me to think about.

I don't aspire to be corporate. I don't aspire to be someone's boss. I aspire to have a work schedule that allows me to continue going on youth group trips and having the time of my life with those kids. I aspire to work to live, not to live to work. I do indeed dread work every day, and I hate that I hate such a huge part of how I spend my time. I know there is a plan for what I'll be doing. But no -- career for me is not corporate. Career is something I'm not interested in. Job is something to carry me over until I find my life's calling. But that's scary to think about as well -- what if I never find a different job that will allow me to survive, and most importantly -- what if I never find the right person like Beth has so awesomely found. That's the most disconcerting and frightening feeling of all.

As for finding the right person? I feel like I'm ready to. Sure, I have my issues, but those are things that if I waited until I worked them all out before trying to find someone, I'd go to the grave alone. On the other side of that, I know that even boyfriend-less I do have a fantastic life -- I never feel like I'm lacking in the love department. I have great friends and a great family and really, except for work, I love my life.

So you know what? It turns out that Beth and I are going far. Maybe it’s not in the way that our teachers predicted, but in our world? We are doing something REALLY BIG. And I am proud of us.

14 comments:

Whinger said...

Awwwww...tear!
And you ARE awesome, and the work you do outside of work is important for everyone, what with the children being the future and all.

Ariel1980 said...

I have mentioned before that I think children are the greatest gift of all, and I admire you for wanting to be the sort of involved parent that many of us wished for. Don't get me wrong, my own mother was wonderful, but she was also very distant most of the time. Boarding school did not help, and so I almost always felt like a perpetual guest even in our home until we moved to the US. Now we visit with each other like friends, and I'm so grateful for that. Your children will be too.

Cheryl said...

I totally understand not wanting to hate work; wanting to love what you do. I say go for it. You have to do things that make you happy in all aspects of life.

dasi said...

Life is waaaaayyyy too short to not be happy. For whatever reason, it seems like people always seem to manage to get by one way or another, why not "get by" doing things you enjoy?? I agree with you in theory, just don't rush anything (like husband or kids) until you are SURE that they are what will KEEP you happy! Maybe I did it a little backwards, but my daughter makes me happiest and if there's a husband out there, he'll eventually turn up.

Stay happy, Amber!!

Hope said...

I could have written this myself. I'll never understand people who live to work rather than work to live - especially an 8-5 job in a cubicle. When people asked me in job interviews where I see myself in 10 years I didn't know how to answer because I don't even see myself in this field, much less owning my own business which is what they expect me to say. I need to find something less structured, but I don't know what that is. I'm so jealous of people who make gobs of money in completely innovative/non-traditional ways.

Sorry for rambling, but I really mean to say I feel your pain!

The Other Half said...

whew...i thought i was the only one who didn't care about climbing the corporate ladder to make more money...

The Zombie Lama said...

That's why I'm trying to get out of this nasty IT field and become a firefighter. Good luck!!!!!!!!

Miladysa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Husband said...

don't forget you have me and that you are part of the A-Team. thats huge!

Alice said...

aw... it's so great that you know what you want. i really believe that work to live thing, but i'm still clueless about what sort of work will enable me to do that. as of now, i don't think it's having kids... and it sure ain't finances :-) i need to figure out what floats my boat.

Thomas said...

This was actually a really insightful post, Amber. So ambitious and stuff.

Jill said...

I had the same experience with school, not having to put in the effort, teachers having grand expectations for my "future", etc. It's great that you are so clear about what would make you happy and that you are arranging your life to fit that. Oh, and I also would like to demand a PhD in knowledge of song lyrics. If only!

Amanda said...

amber, my mouth is agape. this is fantastic. i think that the fact that you are happy in your life, with your family and friends is so important. the rest is just icing on the cake.

on the job note, when i was making my recent job-related decision and considering an offer i was given of a job that i thought i might like, my mom told me about one of her friends who says, "i love my job, i seriously love going there every day." i CANNOT imagine this. no matter how good the job. this worries me, but then again, as you remind me, there is so much more to us than what we do to live.
great post, amber.

Kiki said...

I think it's great to choose something you love over money. Unfortunatley for me I'm not anywhere close to be able to have that luxury. I look up to you and Amanda. :)