I’m a big believer in doing what I love, so I’ll never have to work a day in my life (or so the saying goes), but I’ve never had that luxury. I’ve always had to take whatever I could get, and it’s so easy to get complacent in a job (I don’t mind working, but I hate looking for a job). A year goes by and suddenly, you realize all you’ve gotten out of it is a paycheck. Unless the paycheck is pretty substantial and you have something to show for it, it’s not enough.
Not so much getting married, but having a baby has made me take a much harder look at my future. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer, and because I had that, it didn’t matter what menial, low-paying job I settled for to pay the bills. I had something I loved to do in my free time, even though it wasn’t paying off in the monetary sense . . . yet.
That’s not enough anymore. A job, no matter how fun it is or how much I like the people, if it doesn’t provide, it’s not worth it. I used to think all it took was working hard in an entry-level job, the boss would notice, and I’d be promoted. I realize now I was never hungry enough to move up because I wasn’t passionate enough (or ambitious enough) about the work to make it happen. I worked hard, but the idea of working in retail for the rest of my life has never appealed to me, no matter how much money I had the potential to make.
For so long, I’ve avoided college because I didn’t believe I was smart enough to finish. I know now that’s not true. I just have to work harder at it than others. Any kind of math that includes the alphabet (e.g., word problems and algebra) has never come easy for me. For so long, I’ve tried to like things I hate (which includes certain healthy foods), only to make myself miserable.
If I love it, I’ll do it. I’ve always loved to write, so I’ve written. I’ve always loved vegetables (I’ve never been a fruit person), and so I’ve eaten vegetables; the only kind of fruit I care for is the kind that’s part of a sweet dessert (e.g., banana splits, strawberry shortcake, and cherry cheesecake). Campbell, Missouri peaches are an exception and are lovely as is.
My husband has always loved to cook, I’ve always loved to write, but those things aren’t paying off for us right now. My husband has discovered, working in some of the local restaurant kitchens, that none are up to health safety standards. Just this evening, he realized he wanted to be one of those people who come in and turn struggling restaurants around, like on Kitchen Nightmares. I suggested he become a health inspector, and it was like a light bulb went off.
As for me, I’d thought about becoming a nutritionist, but it was daunting—knowing I had to go back to school rather than just take a test to obtain a license or certification. So, I’d forgotten that old ambition until several days ago. I realized I was weary of working jobs that aren’t meant to be careers or wouldn’t likely lead to a career (at least one that would interest me). I’d started to think I’d gotten lazy, but that wasn’t it at all. I’d just lost my enthusiasm. What had satisfied me in my early twenties wasn’t satisfying me now. I wanted more, and I’m becoming a better person for wanting more.
I’ve had a few wake-up calls, but they weren’t enough. I had to know what it was I wanted to do. I had to know what I needed to start working towards. Yesterday, a tunnel stretched ahead of me, but I couldn’t see what was at the end of it.
Now I can.
Perhaps it’s that we don’t have the luxury of not knowing anymore. I remember, years ago, watching a biography of John F. Kennedy, Jr., who didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life till he was 30. I don’t remember what that was but sometimes, when you’re comfortable, you get too comfortable, and you don’t progress. Sometimes we need to be pushed—if we don’t push ourselves first.
I am in a good place right now. Now, I can understand why Jenna Rink from 13 Going on 30 thought 30 was where it was at. I used to think 30 was old (I did on my birthday, and I still like to tell my parents I’m 29). Now I just think of 20 as young.