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May 31, 2009

Comments

Christine:
I saw so much of myself in your post - especially when you said you thought anything other than serious academia felt like "fluff" - I remember feeling that anything other than serious high-level non-profit change-the-world stuff was "fluff." I was always inclined towards interior design but felt that it wasn't altruistic enough. So I quickly left that interest by the wayside and went into international relations and education. While building our own house a few years ago, I got a chance to delve into design and I loved it - so much, in fact, that I started a little design business and helped several people design and build their homes. I realized that creating beautiful spaces made me happy - and made other people happy - and nothing that creates beauty is "fluff." Now I satisfy my design interest primarily with website design (for The Power of Moms), my new website and house design is on the back burner - but my meandering career paths have definitely taught me that pursuing something you really enjoy brings happiness and fulfillment that you can never get from "pounding a round peg into a square hole." You have to embrace your passions and find ways to fulfill what you feel are your purposes while using your natural inclinations and talents rather than forcing yourself to pursue only what feels most purely noble to you.

Thanks for such a thought-provoking piece!

My comment is a bit belated, but this post rings so true for me. When I was 18, I envisioned a very similar path for myself, one that was supposed to culminate in (you guessed it) a tenured professorship by my late 20s. Not attend graduate school? Impossible! A career outside academia? Selling out! And marriage? Enlightened feminist that I was, I was convinced that no one should get married before age 30.

Then, the summer after college graduation, I fell madly, deeply, head-over-heels in love. I had planned to spend a grad school resume-padding year teaching in France, but I only made the first leg of that flight. Then I turned around and flew back to the man I loved (and who happened to be my future husband).

Lots of people clicked their tongues and shook their heads at how I could give up such a great opportunity for a guy I'd only just met, but the beauty of being alive is that you must follow your own path.

My choice not to take that connecting flight (which, believe it or not, was in North Carolina!) led me down a path I could never have expected. I decided I didn't want to attend graduate school (gasp!). I found a fulfilling career outside academia (gasp!). And I married the love of my life at age 26 (double gasp!).

It's strange and wonderful that a single choice at a pivotal moment can shape so much of the trajectory of our lives, revealing to us not only who we are, but who we might become. Thanks for sharing your story, Christine. I'm glad you followed your heart.

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About this blog

  • When I took a sabbatical from Wall Street to pursue a different dream and help others live theirs, I learned that women in the U.S. may be placated, even pampered, but because we aren't dreaming, we are also desperate and depressed. Drawing on a variety of sources, ranging from academic studies to pop culture, dare to dream encourages us to dream. And then to act on our dreams.

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