Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An extraordinary life

I went to visit the career counselor again.

Maybe I should explain, the first time I went he asked me some questions like:
"Who was a mentor of yours as a child?"
"What are your favorite TV programs?"
"What are some of your early memories?"
"What is a motto you use in life?"
"What is your favorite movie?"

The questions seemed kind of random. I didn't really have a mentor. No coach, or teacher that really stood out. There was a neighbor who was a science teacher and she always brought home all kinds of hamsters and gerbils over school breaks. She would let me come over and help her feed them. She was a really nice lady. She had a daughter I played with sometimes too, the daughter had lots of toys and did ballet dance. I don't watch TV, other than occasionally Ask This Old House, Modern Family and The Amazing Race. I can't really remember many memories from my early childhood, so I talked about when my parents split up when I was 6, I talked my mom into letting me get a duckling. I was the only kid I knew that had a little duck following me up and down the street. I also had a turtle, a snake, some hermit crabs, and a dog. I was (am?) a tomboy. I told him I also had memories of going to my grandparents house in the summer and playing with all the cousins. I was an only child and it was pretty quiet at home. (Just my mom and me.) I loved the fun and noise of playing with the mass of cousins during the summer. I told him I don't have a "motto" but that I think back to who I used to be and think, "Wow, I used to be more adventurous." So a good motto would be, "Step outside your comfort zone." As far as movies, I don't have a favorite, I always forget the title of every movie I see. But I like the kind of movie where the main character perseveres and triumphs over adversity. I told him I hate the kind of artsy movies where you are left dangling at the end, not knowing how things work out. You invest two hours in getting to know the characters and the plot and then, bam. Nothing. I like to know how it ends.

He jotted things down. And I kept yapping away about how much I love working with my hands, being outside, being near the lakes, walking with my dog, being with my own family, I talked about my parents' divorce (33 years ago) and how I used to paint in notebooks and how my mom threw them all away one day while I wasn't home because she was cleaning and organizing. (I was maybe 8?). And he looked shocked. And then sad. And he asked, "How did that make you feel?" And I sat there... "I was pissed," I said.

After he finished asking me his questions, he straightened his notes.
I don't know if this is related or not, but the career counselor is Native American. He is actually the son of a Chief. He and I talked about my son learning about Native cultures in school and about proper pronunciation of a few tricky local names in question. We talked about Native art. I know some about the significance of the turtle and the respect of nature to native culture. So when we started talking, for some reason, there was a deep connection, as if he understood what I meant when I said I need to be outside, walking, seeing the trees, seeing the lakes. Anyway...
He told me I like to fix things and use my hands. I like to watch a show about fixing things and taking old things and making them work better. He told me that when my parents divorced, they broke up my family. But I decided I was going to make my own family. I had the duck, the dog, the turtle... I said, "Follow me, together, we can be a family." (Right about here, I needed to get myself a tissue, let me tell you.) He told me I wanted to do things differently with my children, I decided to choose to stay home with my children and give them two, stable parents. (Enter more tissues.) I like to be part of a community, included and encompassed, but I don't like to be pushed out in front, challenged, that is one of the things about teaching that I didn't like. Regarding my movie preferences, my not liking hanging endings, he said that the whole Foreign Service idea must be a real challenge for me, not having everything wrapped up. (um, yeah.) He repeated back to me all that I had told him-- that I enjoy making things, using clay, being outside, art, talking to artistic people, making connections with people. He told me I am good at meeting the goals others set for me, but that I need to think about what makes me happy and try to set goals for that. He told me it is time for me to let myself be happy. To give myself permission to soar. And it ended with, "Find your own path."

So I thought about different careers.

What will there be shortages in?
Could I be a nurse? They need nurses. No. Two words. Bed pans.
Could I be an Occupational Therapist? Yes. But I don't want to.
Could I be....
And on it went.

Graphic designer?
Web Designer?
Ceramic artist?

My second meeting with the career counselor involved me saying, "Okay, I've thought about it, and if I had oodles of money I would be making art and taking art classes and talking to other artists and earning an MFA." I'm not going to get another masters degree now, but I am doing ceramics and taking a class. And I'm trying to paint.

I'm not over the FS. It is still something we are thinking about. But at this point, if we pursue it further, my husband would be taking the FSOT again, not working while learning a critical needs language. 

This life, my life, will have me, soaring, or not, no matter where we go, or don't go. Me going to another country isn't going to fix things. 'Cause guess what? I'd still be there, unsure of what I want in order to feel fulfilled. So, I have my (figurative and literal) lump of clay, and now I will figure out what to make of it.


Daniela Swider said...

I have, at various points in my life had the "what do I want to be when I grow up?" questions (and sometimes anxiety). Can't say I've figured it out for myself but I am happy that you are working with someone on figuring that out for yourself. Your counselor seems to understand you and I am hoping he will help you find yourself. Best of luck!

Emily said...

Life is definitely what you make it. It is wonderful that you have taken so many steps to figure out what a good path for you will be. The great thing is that there are a lot of options. Good luck!

Bfiles said...

Glad to hear from you again. Sounds like you have a good connection with an insightful counselor, and it may take a while, but you will find something that fulfills you. Wishing you all the best.

Noble Glomads said...

I loved this entry. Again, it seemed to echo a lot of my own thoughts. Although I had a degree in journalism and a promising career at a newspaper, I chose to quit and sew for a living. I never looked back. It is hard for us Moms to put ourselves first sometimes but when we finally do, everyone benefits.

Shannon said...

I still haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Turning 40 didn't help. Maybe when I turn 50?