Ever wonder what the hell it is you are supposed to do in this life?
It’s been a lifelong struggle for me. Well, I mean the only thing I’m sure of that I was meant to do was be a mother. Now back in the day, no not that day, that day, it was ok to just want to grow up to be a wife, mother, homemaker. There were books and magazines dedicated to that shit. “Good Housekeeping”, “Redbook”, “How to Keep Your Husband Happy”. Then somewhere along the line, feminists threw that all out the window. To just want to get married and be a homemaker was a disgrace, a loser, a simple minded woman who couldn’t do anything else.
But my struggle started way before realizing that being a mother was my calling, that came later. Early on, in the 1960’s I was raised in a family of overachievers. My parents were both Penn State graduates. My Mother was a 1948 college graduate, which put her a little ahead of her time. A very intellectual, very strong woman, very driven. My Father, another driven guy, went to college, left to serve in WWII, then came back and finished college. Having no high money earning or intellectual dreams wasn’t acceptable in my family.
Soooo, lucky me, I was born creative into a family where you must choose one of the following career paths – teacher, lawyer, doctor,scientist, engineer, counselor, nurse, or business management. I seemed to have no viable skills as I was growing up, so I thought. And if you didn’t have viable skills you were chastised, or maybe I just told myself that. Looking back, in parts of my life I was an A student… usually until boredom, anxiety or depression hit, then I tanked. I loved history, I was really good at English basics (spelling and grammar, however I later almost failed Composition Writing in college), I was a good swimmer, and I was pretty decent in theater. Yup, so… what am I supposed to do with that? Doesn’t amount to much, so I thought.
I thought I finally figured it out in high school! I want to be an actor! That’s it! I’ve always been a ham, I crack jokes, I got the female lead in “Fiddler on the Roof”… I’ll be an actor! So, come college search time and I excitedly tell my parents I want to major in theater. Great, right? “We’re not paying for you to go to college to become a waitress”, was their reply. Exact words. Wham! Thud. A blow right between the eyes of my self-esteem, hopes and dreams.
However, in the last few years in my period of rediscovery, with no real preparation I tried auditioning for a few things and failed miserably, so maybe my parents did save me some time.
But to their credit they gave me an alternative to ponder. My Father’s brother had been the President of ABC News until his death in 1974, “Why don’t you go into broadcasting like Uncle John, that’s a new major now.”. Hey ok, I always wanted to be a DJ. It was the early 80’s it was a new thing. It was great until I got out of school and my hopes were dashed realizing that being a DJ on the radio didn’t mean you could play or say whatever you wanted. It was cue up the record, announce it, then say “we’ll be back after these messages”. Then all the corporations came in in the 1990’sand bought up the stations and I just wasn’t a good corporate, yes-man team player. I grew bitter. If I could only just be a coporate guy.
I had just gotten married and within 2 years gotten pregnant. After my son came along is when I realized I wanted to be a full-time mom. My ex-husband said no. I begged for a few years then I got to because I was on bed rest. I was happy, all the while him telling me that I was useless because I wasn’t bringing any money in. When my third baby was about 16 months old, we called it quits for good. Being “just a mom” wasn’t an option anymore. I was told I had to work. I scrambled to find something that would bring in money. I was working to cover daycare, nothing extra. How fucking stupid. I wish I’d had the guts back then to say no, until these kids all get in school I’m staying home and you’re paying. (believe me, he made enough) But I was stubborn and wanted to show I was no “freeloader”.
I jumped from one job to another over the last 13 years trying to figure out what it was I was supposed to do. However, I never really had the opportunity to find something I love,d it was always “grab the first thing so you have an income”. I was never happy, I was never really any good at any of those jobs, and I was always late or taking a sick day because to me, kids came first (they certainly didn’t to their Father, so someone had to). Sorry, a 6 year old can’t stay home vomiting by themselves. I kept taking sales related jobs because everyone thought I had such a great personality for it and had the prospect for good money. I hate sales! And I suck at it. “I wouldn’t buy this either, put your money to better use.”
About once a year or so I’d find myself looking for another job again for a variety of reasons. The main one I’m finding is because I didn’t choose wisely, I just went for the first paycheck I could find. I’m tired of that. I’ve been trying to leave that behind. I think I’ve finally found what I love but the pay is somewhat lower than craptastic right now and not enough hours. Doesn’t fit into the plan my family always told me I was supposed to take. And it’s hard when you’re trying to feed, house, and put three kids through college.
I lost a job recently that was really good pay for part-time and it was helping to keep the boat afloat. But due to cash flow problems, I was let go from that sinking ship. It was a blessing actually because it was emotionally draining for various reasons, but losing it left a big money void, so here I am once again figuring out what to do. At least I have recently been blessed with realizing that I don’t have to tow the party-line. I don’t have the pressure of believing I need to do what my parent’s thought I should do. I’ve been blessed to have several articles and books put in my path that said there are a lot of famous, brilliant, happy, and sometimes rich people that failed out of college, been fired from jobs, and had several failures in their life until they found their purpose.
Albert Einstein, Jack Kerouac, Buckminster Fuller, Lucille Ball, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Oprah, Emily Dickinson. All either failed school, were called dumb, been fired, or had countless business and life failures… but all ended up becoming revered in an area which they finally thrived and persevered. Yay, maybe I found a club to join, losers unite!
We’re not all conformists with a perfect path. I have accepted that I don’t conform. And that’s ok. I think. Some have gifts we haven’t quite figured out what they are yet. Some of us think we have gifts but spend too much time listening to the expectations of others. Some of us think we might have figured out the gift or purpose but just aren’t quite sure how to exactly use it and break out of the wrong path we’ve been travelling on.
Buckminster Fuller spoke of the epiphany he had after trying to kill himself because of several recent failures. He said:
“You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.”
Or sometimes you realize you just really want to lay concrete for the rest of your life. That helps others, right?
Isn’t that a nice thought? I don’t know how realistic it all is, but it proves my concept of figuring out what you’re supposed to do and still try an earn a living. You guys are lucky that have a specific vocation, “I want to be a hairdresser”, bam! Fulfillment, success and money. Those of us who can’t seem to put our finger on our purpose, feel rejected. It gives me food for thought, but still doesn’t tell me what the hell I’m supposed to do.