Thursday, July 10, 2014

Onward

When you’re a kid, the question isn’t “What is your goal in life?”  but “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The possibilities left me with stars in my eyes. 

What did I want to be?  What didn’t I want to be?

Early on, I wanted to be two things: a dentist and a bus driver.

Naturally, I wanted to be a dentist, because: TEETH.  And a bus driver, because: the freedom of the open road, twenty tons of steel hurtling me toward the next adventure with fifty of my closest friends.

At six I was a wanderer, a free spirit.  With great teeth.

Later, my goal was to be a dancer, a farmer, a teacher, an actor, a secretary, a horsewoman, a florist, and Julie from the Love Boat.  I envisioned myself in a gauzy mint-green pleated dress, ash-blond hair perfectly curled away from my glowing complexion and glossy pink lips. Permission to come aboard, Captain?

I loved Carol Burnett and Vicki Lawrence, wanted to be involved in their hilarious back and forths, trying not to giggle.  My goal was to make people laugh, move them to tears, dance and sing like a modern Judy Garland and eat lunch on the studio lot.

I lamented the day I realized that we lived too far away from any big city to realistically have a career on the stage or screen.  I took modeling classes and learned how to apply makeup and I cut out pictures from magazines of clothing I thought was terribly fashionable and listened carefully as the charm school instructors insisted that these were not examples of high fashion but were instead one-off trends, sure to be absent next year.  I didn’t understand but perfected lining my eyes and feathering my hair away from my face instead.  I never once wondered why my hairstyle wasn’t featured in any of the fashion magazines.



I heard them tell my mother that I needed another 20 weeks of classes and what it would cost, and I got new goals.

In high school I loved art and failed math, and was crushed to find out that I had no talent for art after all.  I took an aptitude test that said I should be an artist.  I chose to go to college in a beautiful climate and majored in Undecided.

My third year of college began with an advisor advising me to decide.  I settled on psychology because it was interesting without seeming difficult, despite receiving average grades in the one psych class I took.  I discovered a love for testing psychological theories, not so much for hearing people talk about their problems.

Along the way to a new goal of pursuing an academic career,  I found a world outside university libraries and labs.  Raucous friendships and courtship and a planned life together that included corporate jobs and home ownership soon replaced animated discussions about the insanity of Freud and the real-life personality studies found within college psych departments. 

With a new goal in front of me, I said goodbye to academia and hello to domesticity, child-rearing, coupon clipping, and vacationing with babies.  First days of school followed, as did dance recitals and Little League and deaths and births of loved ones and new friends who are more like family every day.  

I've found a wonderful life that promises much more than I ever thought it would.

I never became a dentist, though I’ve pulled teeth.  I never drove a bus either, though I’ve carted around plenty of kids to youth group.  I am a model when my daughter watches me apply mascara and nods approvingly at my outfit before a night out, and I’ve decorated the walls of our house over and over – I dare you to say I’m no artist.  I’ve counseled friends in hard times, quietly listened to my teenager until he says what’s on his mind, and made people laugh and cry.  I even find myself between two funny ladies as they riff and zing off of each other every Girl’s Night Out.

I’ve made other goals since growing up, and I found meaning, growth and new adventures on my way to reaching them.  I’ve learned that any goals I make can be attained within this life and not a separate one that I have to construct to hold them.  This life can contain it all.

Even if the goals change and adapt as much as I do.


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This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #1: Have you ever felt that life was getting in the way of a big goal?  Did you end up giving up or pressing forward?


33 comments:

  1. Beautiful. It made me smile as I read...it rings with contentment and satisfaction at the choices you've made...and that is probably a rarer treasure than we realize.

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    1. Thanks so much, Jess. I really appreciate that. xoxo

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  2. You are where you're supposed to be, and that is awesome and wonderful.

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    1. Thanks so much, Alison. I wish I had realized it sooner. :)

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  3. What a wonderful (and as usual, hilarious) view of your life. I love the twists and turns in your journey and all the pleasure you've taken from it along the way.

    I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up! Even as an adult I've mentally gone through that list - except to me dentist was yucky because of having my fingers in people's mouths!

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    1. Yeah, I'm not sure why I wanted to be a dentist. Maybe it was because I figured being one would absolve me from having cavities.

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  4. That was so beautifully written! Made me smile and almost tear up at times. I love the outlook you have. It's so nice to read something like this every once in a while, it gives me a fresh perspective. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks so much! We all need a fresh look at life once in a while. Or for me, quite frequently.

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  5. I love this post! It makes me reflect on what I've wanted to be throughout all the years and how my life didn't exactly go as planned all along but I'm happy at where I stand. Stopping by from Mama Kat's, you can find me at www.simplyhaleywebb.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you. It takes time sometimes to be happy where we are. What's that line from the Sheryl Crow song? "It's not having what you want / It's wanting what you've got."

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  6. I loved what you did with this post! Any time we are satisfied with where we are in our lives our goals have been me!

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    1. That's a great way to look at it - thank you!

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  7. Beautiful. I hear you - a wonderful life promising more than I thought.
    When I was very young, I said I wanted to be a garbage woman! Ha! Then it was movie star, naturally. The whole photographer/writer thing has been around as long as I've dreamed, actually. And the mother thing.

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    1. A garbage woman sounds like my idea of the bus driver - the open road, wind in your hair, doing a nice service for others...

      Didn't we all want to be a movie star? I think I gave up that dream around age 35.

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  8. Add great blog writer to your accomplishments. I always did like the "Undecided" major at college. LOL.

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    1. You're very sweet - thank you! Undecided was the best choice for me. If I could have made it my major for four years I would have. I tried. :)

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  9. It's a great feeling knowing we are where we're supposed to be and that there is always time to make changes when we stop feeling content. Love this post!

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    1. It is a great feeling, isn't it? Thank you!!

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  10. The choices that you made certainly helped shaped your life. I too wrote on this topic this week.

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    1. It took me a while to figure this out. Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  11. I wanted to be a ballerina.
    Even though I flunked ballet.
    I STILL don't know what I want to be.
    But from now on when people ask me what I do?
    I am gonna say I am a ballerina.
    BECAUSE I AM IN MY SOUL

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    1. You've really given me something to think about. If you can be a ballerina, then I'm going to be Tina Fey.

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  12. XO
    Because you know you're AWESOME!

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  13. If you would have told me twenty years ago that I would be where I am now, I would have laughed. But it is where I am and I have determined it a good place to be.
    This is a fantastic post, Andrea. Raising my glass to contentment. Cheers!

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    1. Thanks so much, Shannon! Twenty years ago, I would have laughed at where I am, too. I remember distinctly telling anyone within earshot back then that I am positively NOT having kids.

      Oops.

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  14. I love this post. The writing, the story, the lesson... all of it.

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    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer. xoxoxo

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    2. Thank you so much, Jennifer. xoxoxo

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  15. This is such a lovely post. It truly resonated with me. We are all where we are supposed to be, and we have the power to change that if we so choose. Cheers to you.

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    1. Thank you! Having the power to change it is a lesson I need to be reminded of daily, I think. :)

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  16. First, you totally rock satin, pink bunny ears!! ;)

    And you made me realize how many goals I have met in this life... lovely post, my friend.

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    1. They do look like bunny ears, but in reality I was dressed as a mouse - one of Cinderella's mice, actually. Which makes the fact that I was holding a cat so cute. I just realized this when I posted the pic. :)

      When we sit back and realize the goals we have made, life seems more amazing, doesn't it? I definitely need to do this more often.

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