Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Champagne Wishes and Robert Frost
Once upon a time, I had drive. Ambition. Lofty dreams and ideals. I was going to change the world.
As the dust settled on my simple existence, I came to the conclusion that all the champagne wishes I once thought so possible, were not exactly feasible on a beer budget.
Once a partaker in so many things in high school, I am now content with a more miniscule part in society. All those classes and clubs and extra-curricular activities I once shone so brightly in, took part in to boost my college application appeal. To look good on resumes I thought in the future.
I realize now how useless they are in real life.
Sure it was fun at the time. I was involved in so much, a diverse amount of Yearbook-worthy opportunities, from music to sports to academia. But in all seriousness, not a single modicum of that translated into anything I would be able to use later in life.
Of course, half the classes I was forced to take as requirements per the Board of Education didn't really either.
I mean sure, knowing how to diagram a sentence in English class seemed like something you needed to master at the time, but unless you too plan on shaping the minds of listless adolescents when all is said and done, you will never (and I mean never) use this skill again.
Unless you plan on being some sort of Good Will Hunting/MIT math genius, most of those A+B=Z to the third power math equations you are forced to delve into for 3 hours of homework a night are not going to apply to real life either. However, that remedial class that teaches you how to balance your checkbook, now THAT comes in handy.
After a lifetime (it seems) of having worked the Retail Jungle, I am content (to a point) with where I ended up. Sure I still have a couple classes looming over my head until I officially graduate from college, and I plan to finish...eventually. But on the whole, there isn't much a college degree is going to change for me.
I could have gone into something more specific. And at first, I did. I went to a small specialized school with every intention of changing the rules. Making a difference. Getting a background in Ecology and Environmental policies so that one day, I could go to law school and make things happen.
Sooo didn't happen. (clearly)
I was there for a year and miserable. I loathed and despised being away from a city, away from a town actually. (Yes my college was somehow nestled quaintly in a VILLAGE in up-up-up state Vermont) I hated being in a rural place. I didn't want to be involved in what I had thought for so many years idealistically in high school. I was there, in the trenches, and I changed my mind.
Back home I went to re-enroll in another school. Local and small still sure, Community College, but still college nonetheless. I had changed my major of course. No more Environ-anything for me. Nope. I stuck with my passion. English. All things English and relative to the subject as a matter of fact.
Literature, Shakespeare, Creative Writing, Journalism. Any and all classes I took if I could. And I thrived. I loved it. I was on the Dean's List every semester, and somehow managed a 3.98 GPA. I played soccer for the school, I was back on track.
Then that pesky little nagging feeling came back. People would ask me what I was going to do when I was done with school. With all that English concentration, was I going to be a teacher? I thought, no. A writer. SURE! A writer. I would pen my thoughts and ideas and poetry with the world. I would become a journalist, a novelist, a poet somehow! A collaborator of poems and short stories, essays and more.
And then I thought about the likelihood of that happening. The realism that most writers I admired became so posthumously.
Well that's not going to work.
No sense in waiting for success until after I'm dead!
So again, those dreams and ideals lay idle. Hidden behind the retail life I worked in. I was management there; sure, I was on the road to success! (Insert eye roll here) And I hated every minute of it, boss or not. Long hours, late nights. Learning firsthand the customer is FAR from always right, in fact more often than not, completely fucking wrong, and usually an asshole about it.
So I again transitioned. Adapted like a chameleon to new surroundings. I moved into administrative work. And I liked it. Loved it actually. I worked for a world-renowned company. I was a part of important projects. I was the glue that held those high-level executives together. More importantly I was appreciated. I helped run charities and I ran my own little world within a larger universe. I was coming out on top.
I mean, getting laid off was a huge detour, but now am again working for a company I love. That appreciates me. That I don't hate getting up in the morning to go to every day.
Sure I look back on what I once thought I wanted to do with my life, and sure as hell never thought I'd end up here. I never pictured myself a working single mother. Well working yes, but a single mother no. I had that idea like every young girl that I would go to college, get married, have kids and live happily ever after. I never pictured the hard road I would have had to take to be happy.
THAT'S what they need to prep you for in schools. Prepare you that most plans don't necessarily work out how you imagined. That out of most of the majors you choose to take in college you will likely never actually do work in that field. That you could have kids out of wedlock that could derail every plan you may have had for yourself growing up. But despite it all I am happy.
For all intensive purposes, I am. I like my job, even though someone else may find it mundane. I love my son, even though it's a struggle every day to support him and think I am raising him to be the least dysfunctional. I have the support and love of my family and friends, even if I've lost a few along the way. And I have the love of a man who I am lucky enough to call my best friend.
Are there things that could be better? Sure. I'm not dead. It's all still a work in progress. But I'm on the right path.
Sure the road was windy, and bumpy, and still technically under construction, but I think if I had to do over, as long as I knew I would end up where I am now, I think I'd take it anyway.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference"
Way to go Robert Frost, you nailed it.