I Want to Be A………..

My co-worker and I were talking today about what it must be like to have a job that you just love—a job that you couldn’t wait to wake up to each day, a job that made you look forward to Mondays when you could get back to it. Both of us really like our current jobs, feel lucky to be employed at our present company and really enjoy working with our co-workers and team members, but neither of us would say that we are fulfilling our life’s purpose. At least, I wouldn’t say that.

Admittedly, I haven’t met many people that are employed in either (1) the job of their dreams or (2) in the job that they absolutely love, whether it was what they always wanted to do or not. Most people that I know ended up in their job almost by accident or by default.  They graduated from school, went looking for a job, found one (that they probably thought would be temporary until they figured out what they wanted “to do with their live”), developed skills in that industry, and then stuck to jobs in that industry.  My mom never planned on being a social worker, but when she was looking for a job, a friend helped her get one in the county department of social services, probably she thought until she could find something else, but ended up retiring from the State after 25+ years in the social work business.

When I was little, I wanted to be a famous actress and singer. I knew that I would be loved and adored. I even remember riding in the car with my mom and my sister one night, home from school, wondering how my mom felt about “just being a normal person” and not being a celebrity. At the time, I couldn’t understand how she bore the weight of disappointment that her anonymity must bring (seriously).

Now, of course, I realize the naivety of that dream. Mainly, I was naive to think that I could be a famous actress and singer when I don’t have any talent, especially in the vocal department. But, in all fairness, Barbie never worked for a major home improvement retailer when I dressed her up and made up stories about her, either. There was no Barbie cubicle, complete with overstuffed in-box, whiteboard and coffee ring stains.  There were, however, Barbie stages, Barbie microphones, and lots of Barbie gowns.  The dreams of the young as molded by Mattel….

I think asking young adults to decide what they want to do with their lives at the age of 19 or 20 is ridiculous.  How do they know what they want to do with the next 30 or more years when most young adults haven’t even had to do their own laundry?  And we want them to pick a career?  I think that you shouldn’t have to pick your career until you are around 40.  By then, you’ve (more than likely) grown out of the party non-stop phase, so getting to work at 8 am no longer seems like an impossible feat.  You have learned about yourself during your 30s, coming to understand your skills, likes, dislikes, etc.  Around the age of 40 is when you can wisely make a decision about what to do.  Until this point, everything should all be considered “paying research” to help get to that decision.

If I could choose my career now, I would be one of 4 things:

  1. A soap opera actress (emote a lot and hold a puzzled/mad look for 3 seconds until the camera pans away)
  2. A counselor (though Matt swears that I would get fired the first time that someone didn’t take my advice and I told them how stupid they were being, i.e. “I told you what to do, and if you’re not going to listen, then I’m wasting my time.”  I think he’s being a tad harsh.)
  3. A song lyricist, writing Christian rock songs
  4. A book reviewer (though, being an “instant gratification” kinda girl, I always read the last couple of pages first, so I never have any surprise)

Apparently, I have a little creative streak that I would like to get out.  Luckily, I do have outlets, albeit non-paying ones.  No one sings louder with Third Day in their car then I do.  I seem to be a pretty good listener because I often have people drop by my cube for advice or just to talk.  I am constantly critiquing emails.  There are some days when I act up a storm, i.e. “I believe that is a really great, original idea” or “It’s no one’s fault.”  Gotta sell it when you tell it.

I guess that somehow I have ended up expressing myself, in the smallest ways, doing things that I love.  God is good that way.  But if a television studio ever opens in Statesville, looking for soap opera actresses, I’m all over it.

Beauty Is In the Eye

Insomnia has been my nighttime companion for several years. Normally, a sleeping pill and 30 minutes reading will cure it, but recently, even these reliable helpers have been unable to ease me into sleep. I toss and I turn, then I finally turn on the TV. Nothing great is on during the middle of the night, because, let’s face it, if it were great, it would be on during prime time viewing hours. But I do catch some interesting shows, at times. Like the time I saw on the viewing guide that The DaVinci Code was on, but when I turned to that channel, it was two naked women (ummmm) enjoying each other. Having watched the movie with Tom Hanks once before, I knew that I didn’t remember that scene, so I double-checked the guide. I was watching The DaVinci Co-Ed not Code. See, interesting, but not great TV. And I’ve learned to read carefully.

Last night I was flipping late into the night and I came across a show about little girls and beauty pageants. I assume that they were little girls, but it was hard to tell under all the make-up. They could have been 3 or 33….the anklets with the patent leather Mary Janes were what made me first suspect that they couldn’t buy their fake eyelashes by themselves. I was immediately hooked–I think it is called “fascination with the abomination”.

Let’s be clear–none of the little girls that I saw were abominable. They were actually all quite cute, but they in no way resembled little girls. The big hair and the make-up and (I kid you not) spray-on tans masked the things that I think make little girls beautiful–pony tails, missing front teeth, chocolate milk moustaches and skinned knees.

More than being a little disturbed by miniature versions of Joan Collins, circa Dynasty, I worry about the emphasis we place on physical beauty. Anyone who has access to a computer, a TV, a Smartphone, or just waits in line at the grocery store is inundated constantly with images of what is considered beautiful. Tall, painfully skinny, sun-kissed, clear-skinned, big breasted, no hips, women. We are bombarded with ads for products to help us lose weight, firm and tone, get rid of cellulite, pouf up our hair, fill in wrinkles and whiten our teeth. There are TV shows dedicated to turning the ugly goose into a swan, such as Dr. 90210, Extreme Makeover, What Not to Wear. We see images of unattainable looks (let’s face it, not even the model attained those looks in real life, it’s all due to air brushing and Photo Shop) and then get hit with the double whammy of all the things we need to make us acceptable. Could your self-esteem sink any lower?

I am having some self-esteem issues right now. Most of them, I think, stem from the fact that I am not dealing well with aging. Getting older never seemed to bother me until the last year or so and maybe I’m now having a problem because I’m staring down a birthday that ends with a zero. In our world, young is beautiful….hence, my self-esteem issues.

And the thought that has been running through my head a lot over the last few months has been “What’s great about getting older?” I am developing new issues, like cholesterol problems and the inability to eat onions (oh, the heartburn). My joints sometimes hurt; I can’t stay awake during a movie, I NEED coffee in the morning. Tell me–what’s so great?

The answer hit me out of the blue while I was talking to one of my younger co-workers the other day. What’s great about getting older can’t be seen on the outside–it all resides on the inside. My life lessons, my bruises, my failures and successes, my experiences that translate into the wisdom that only comes with age. I had book smarts as a child, but only as an older adult have I found a modicum of wisdom.

I know my limitations, I know my abilities, and I know when to ask for help (and not to be ashamed). I know my priorities and I know what really matters in the long run. I know how to say “Thank you” and how to say “I’m sorry”. I know when to say that I messed up. I know when to take a stand and when to lose a battle in order to win the war. I know about diplomacy and office politics, I know about telling my husband that I love him every day. I know that I am not perfect and that I will fail, but I know that doesn’t mean I am a failure.

Thus, when I’m worrying over my weight, or my not-nearly-so-perky boobs, I remind myself that on the inside things are pretty good. I may not be happy with my looks, but on the whole, I am content with my decisions and my actions. I am beautiful because I acted as beautifully as I could, or as my mama always said, “Pretty is as pretty does.” She was so right. So, instead of What Not to Wear the real show should be called How Not to Act, because in the end, who remembers what you were wearing? But everyone remembers how you acted.