Monday, April 14, 2014

What I want to do when I grow up

Yesterday we packed up the kids and headed down to LA for the LA Times Festival of Books. It was a wonderful day and there were many highlights, but for me, the best part of the festival was the interview of Daniel Handler by Ransom Riggs. Early in the interview, Ransom asked Daniel (who I'm trying hard not to refer to as Lemony Snicket), if he always knew he wanted to be a writer. After a joke or two, Daniel responded yes, he couldn't remember a time when he didn't want to be a writer.

It got me thinking about whether there was anything that I always knew I wanted to be. Ironically, as we herded our 6 kiddos around USC's campus surrounded by books, I had to admit that I didn't always want to be a mom ;) If you would have asked me when I was 6 or 7 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you I wanted to be a marine biologist. Around 9 or 10, I had changed my answer to a teacher or a lawyer. In high school, I was voted Most Musical and was awarded a music scholarship to college. As an undergraduate at Michigan State, I changed my major 4 times, finally settling on Speech Pathology, which required me to immediately go to graduate school. When I started my master's program at Penn State, I realized I really didn't want to be a researcher for the rest of my life, and I didn't want to be a clinician I changed my major in grad school and got my Master's degree in education.

Since then, I've been a teacher, a training manager, an instructional designer, a project manager, a sales professional, an entrepreneur, a game designer and now a product manager. Along the way, I was also a college professor and authored a book. And, a surprise to everyone who knew me when I was young, I also have 6 amazing kiddos who I am helping to raise.

Maybe I'll never be able to answer that question of what I want to do when I grow up. Maybe that's just part of who I am, curious and open to new opportunities. I know that I want to leave the world a better place than I found it and that I want to spend my days passionate about what I do. Maybe that passion in me isn't fueled by one career, but the challenges presented by a varied and unknown path of diverse accomplishments.

If I had to answer that same question from Ransom Riggs, I think I'd answer it this way:

There's never been a time when I didn't love to learn. I love the challenge of trying something new and not giving up until I succeed. I always knew that I'd find a way to fill my days trying to make the world a better place. At different times, that has looked like different things. As the world changes, so must I if I want to keep trying to make it better.

That's what I want to do when I grow up.

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