Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When I Grow Up ~ Part 1

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sounds like a simple question. And from a young age, it is something we are routinely asked & seemingly encouraged to think about. But, in my experience, it seems we have many answers to this question. At thirty years of age, I am still struggling (deeply struggling, actually) with how to answer this one question.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a vet (don't we all!?!) & wanted to work with horses. As I got older, I wanted to be an author like my favorite, Laura Ingalls Wilder. In high school, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer & even did a short stint shadowing a local attorney. Although that experience was very boring (in my high school-aged opinion), I continued on with that path & entered college as a pre-law major.

Upon arriving at college, I was greatly disappointed with the pre-law program. All the law courses were taught by the same professor who was not very challenging & didn't appear to have a passion for her students or the material she was teaching. After one semester, I visited the campus where I would be going for law school per the program requirements. Feeling less than impressed with that campus & a gut feeling that it just wasn't for me, I decided to switch majors. In high school, I had taken an accounting course & felt that perhaps that would be a better path. So, the summer after my first year of college, I became an accounting major.

Whether the change was for the better or not, I can't really say. Even though I was an accounting major, I knew I didn't want to be doing audits & taxes my whole life. A terrible internship experience in a CPA firm confirmed that decision. After completing my bachelor's degree in three years, I stayed at the same university to complete a master's of business administration. Knowing I didn't want to be a CPA, I understood the value that an MBA could have in rounding out my business acumen, rather than being pigeon-holed into accounting jobs. I always enjoyed higher education, but really loved the type of learning that the master's-level courses provided.

Upon graduation, I still didn't know what I wanted to do. But I knew I had to build up some real-world experience. So, I took a job as a financial analyst with a manufacturing company. The first six months of the job should have been an indication of what to expect. It was a newly created position & from the beginning, management struggled with finding enough projects/tasks to keep me busy. At this point, I began to develop a terrible, woe-is-me attitude about work. Looking back, I had nothing but negative experiences in job shadowing, internships & now a first job. Why couldn't I find something/someone who loved what they do & emulate that?!

Fast forward...marriage, four kids, home purchase...now nearly eight years later, I am still at the same job I took right out of college. How do I feel about that? Frustrated, angry, emotional, aggravated. I haven't moved "up the ladder" & there isn't really a defined path of where that ladder would go, assuming there was one. No considerable pay raises or leadership/management experience either. I have (thankfully!) been able to have flexibility & the opportunity to work from home when Jesse has retreats or work conferences. But, I often wonder, once our kids are all in school & we don't really need as much flexibility, what will I be doing still working here? It's a question I ponder a lot...along with that nagging question...

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Part Two can be found here.

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