Last week I fired up a post that began by asking readers to take a trip in the Wayback machine and revisit what they wanted to be when they grew up: A ballerina? A rockstar? A zookeeper? The first girl to crack the Major Leagues? A Power Ranger? Our Ms. X, a few years post-college and up to her ears in the vagaries of the real world, takes on the treadmill — and finds that if you don’t watch out, you never get off.
Decide, Decide, Decide!
by Nicole X.
Power Ranger? Sounds very familiar But I don’t remember if I said that in class or just thought about it when you asked. Maybe that glorious response belongs to someone else.
This post really speaks to me. When it came time to apply for college, and all through college, just about every conversation I had with my dad was all about what I was going to do with my life. Or more specifically — why had I not decided yet? It was always the same — DECIDE DECIDE DECIDE!!!! And then, since I couldn’t come up with a sufficient and satisfactory answer, I was supposed to go to the career center at my college, take a magic quiz that would tell me what I was supposed to be, and report back. A sort of personality test, if you will. You have no idea how lame I felt going in to the center to ask for that quiz. And guess what? They didn’t have one….
My sister tells me she feels that she just let our Dad pick her college major for her. She said it was easier that way, and she liked what he told her to do well enough. Maybe that’s why he and I got into way more fights than the two of them did?
It took me picking a career path and working full time while going to grad school to figure out that I wanted something different. That the career I had chosen would not be compatible with the life I wanted to lead. My decision had to do with the professional life I wanted — but even more so to do with the personal life I want in the future.
Still, after making the switch from news producer to aspiring teacher, I do sometimes feel like a disappointment for wanting to teach. Not so much from home anymore, because many of my family members are teachers. (Their concerns center around the viability and sustainability of my financial future since my chosen career path isn’t one where I can say to my boss, “Show me the money.”)
Instead, pressure seems to hit when I run into old high school classmates and have the awkward “What are you up to these days?” conversations. One instance went as follows:
After the question, I said I’m finishing my teaching certificate so I can teach high school social studies. The look in my classmate’s eye and the smug grin on her face said it all. That, paired with the tone of her “Ooh. You’re going to be a teacher” seemed to say “Ooh. Wow. I thought you would have done something more interesting. I won.” That feeling of being judged made me want to judge the choices she’d made that led her to a steady, safe and seemingly successful cubicle job.
And as I walked away, I just felt horrible, both for judging and for feeling judged. Isn’t this where we should be uniting as women? What we should be fighting against?
Being supportive, and not competitive?