When I was in elementary school, I used to tell my parents that I was going to live in a purple motor home in the Carmel High School parking lot and work as a cashier at O’Malia’s as a profession. I don’t know why being a grocery store cashier sounded like so much fun, but it did. And how could I ever want to live more than a couple of miles away from my parents?
When I was 15, I got a work permit and started a part-time job as a cashier at O’Malia’s. My parents didn’t make me get a job, I just really wanted to work there. At first, it was awesome. I got a pay check every week of my very own money, money I didn’t have to ask my parents for, money I could spend however I wanted. I also loved working there. I got to socialize and see people all afternoon after school instead of sitting around watching TV.
Well, the appeal of that job faded a couple of months later, when I realized that your work schedule is non-negotiable. You can’t just not show up so that you can go hang out with your friends. I had a good run working at O’Malia’s, but it just wasn’t for me…along with the purple motor home. I’m pretty sure I had realized before getting this after-school job that working as a cashier at O’Malia’s wasn’t a wise lifetime career choice, which is about the time I also decided I wanted to be a meteorologist on the morning news. Seeing as it’s pretty difficult for me to wake up earlier than 9:30 am, I don’t think that would have been such a great fit.
In junior high and high school, I imagined graduating college and immediately putting on a pants suit to head to my important, professional job. For awhile, I had visions of becoming Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner, organizing swanky multi-million dollar weddings for high-profile clients. I’d be super organized and have the answer for everything, making it look effortless and simple. Unfortunately, I live in Indiana, and it’s not that easy to be a 22-year old fresh from school trying to convince people to let you plan their events for them. I had an event planning internship for a couple of months that led me to believe that event planning was not the right fit for me.
So I did what I thought was best and got a job as a waitress. It was just going to be my in-between job until I figured something else out. The cute yet professional dress shirts and skirts got tucked away in the back of my closet and were replaced with an apron, wine key and non-slip shoes. What was supposed to be an in-between job turned into an almost two-year stint in a fine dining restaurant. My parents were mortified that their friends had kids who were working entry-level positions in big companies while I was wasting my college degree slinging fresh fish to the residents of Carmel, Indiana.
I despised my boss so I took a day job being a glorified assistant for a fairly new but large company, where I continued to work for the next two and a half years. But did I really want to be working on Excel spreadsheets for the rest of my life? I had no room to grow at this company; my position had nowhere to advance, so I made the decision to leave for a job doing what I loved: journalism.
I had been working part-time for Metromix, which eventually went out of business in the Indianapolis area, so I had the opportunity to freelance for the Indianapolis Star. At the same time, I started a job working for an internet company as a writer. I began to find my passion for writing and realized that if I spent the rest of my life doing this, I would love what I did. I get to be social, meet new people, not sit at a desk all day, find out new things about my city and community and truly enjoy my work.
I don’t think many people get a chance to do something they truly love doing for a living. And while this is definitely not what I envisioned my life would be like at the age of 28, I’m so happy and thankful that it is. It’s funny how different things end up being once you grow up and life happens. And now that I’m older, let me tell you, I’m not at all mad that I don’t ever have to wear a pants suit to work, and I’ve never spent a single night in a motor home.
What did you imagine your life would be when you were younger? Is your life anything like that vision?