My birthday is coming up and it’s one of those milestone ones. Ugh! How on earth did I get to be this old? Better than the alternative, yet how did it happen?
Reflecting on life, there are some things I wish I would have done when I was young and a few that I’m glad I didn’t. Some things are best left as fantasies. The hard part is figuring that out in real time.
I wish I would have moved to the west coast when I was young and established myself there. (I hate cold weather. Always have.)
There was a strong family pull that kept me close. There were responsibilities to fulfill and lack of opportunities for women everywhere. Did it matter where I lived if I was going to make diddly-squat? In retrospect it may have.
I wish I would have worked harder on my career earlier, focusing on my skills.
In school, although I had some good and great teachers, no one ever told me I was good at something. Nor did they encourage me to pursue anything specific.
No one said “you write well.” Or you are quick to pick up languages (I would have made a great interpreter). Hic, haec, hoc* (Latin pronouns I still remember. Yep, two full years of Latin plus two full years of Spanish.)
Being an honor student didn’t mean much. The opportunities weren’t there. Our debate club was pitiful and unless you could play a sport well (I couldn’t), there wasn’t much else.
My math teacher always rolled his eyes at me. I could concoct complex algebraic formulas but my answer usually had a simple arithmetic error. (What? Two and two aren’t five? Now there are calculators.)
No one told me my lack of interest in minutia details but skill in problem solving meant I was a big picture person. No one knew what a big picture person was. Maybe there were no big pictures.
Career paths were laid out in a way that you had to maneuver through jobs that you stunk at to get at the jobs you did well (stink, stank, stunk or so said the Grinch). I remember one fateful file job. I had it for 9 months. It was agony.
I knew it was temporary and would give me the seniority I needed to move forward. Otherwise I would have jumped off the bridge.
Filing was boring for me. There are people who excel in the orderliness of it all. Little folders all in a row. Give them the damn filing jobs!
Teaching, nursing and secretarial were the choices. I like teaching except for the kids. I don’t have the patience nor do I have that unique ability to connect with them (it’s an underrated talent not shared by all).
Later I found that I loved teaching adults. Watching the lightbulbs go on is very rewarding. It’s almost instant gratification. Adults are in class because they want to be or need to be for their job. No hooligans to worry about.
Nursing was out. Body fluids. I love watching medical shows and would have been good at the problem solving part as long as it didn’t involve me touching body parts. Especially with a sharp scalpel.
There was a time during the 60s-70s when I wanted to be a rock star. Since I couldn’t sing all that well, Janis Joplin was my role model (except for all the drugs — rock stars didn’t live long). Linda Ronstadt was my favorite but my pipes weren’t even close.
It’s a good thing I didn’t pursue that interest. I don’t like staying up all night. There are all those people around all the time. Too much travel. I have no idea why I even entertained this idea. (I did ALMOST embarrass myself by auditioning for a band but that’s a post in itself.)
At the end of it all, except for not moving to a warmer climate which I can still do, there isn’t anything to change. I maneuvered to find what I loved to do even though it was much more circuitous than it needed to be.
There are good things about growing up in each generation. My generation had freedom that isn’t around today. Today’s generation has more opportunities at an earlier age.
All’s well that ends well. Still wish I had a local 6-year-old to help me with technology.