Message from my 15 year old self – get a life.

Last weekend we were tearing apart the storage closet – trying to make sense of piles of scrap wood, boxes upon boxes of screws and nails, gardening supplies, miscellaneous sporting goods, and other junk that hadn’t been touched in years – when I came across an old portfolio. I brought it upstairs to see if I could finally bear to part with some of my adolescent artwork. Flipping through the poorly developed photos, the amateur sketches, and a painting that looked like its subject was a pile of poop, I came across a collage I had made for a high school psychology class.

The idea of the collage was to capture who we “were” and to then present ourselves to the class. Mine was made of photos of friends and family, stickers, and little quotes I had neatly cut from various issues of Seventeen magazine. I was scanning it with a sense of amusement…wondering at my misguided obsession with Sean Lennon…when my eye was caught by a particular quote:

“I want a life that is a little bit less ordinary. I know what I don’t want. I don’t want a job in a bank, living in the suburbs, driving a minivan.”

Oh boy. It’s not the minivan…I have fully accepted that the minivan is the best Driving Inertia vehicle. It’s not the suburbs…I’d never make it in the burbs. I love going out for field trips every now and then, but adding an hour plus commute to my daily to-do list would not exactly make me happier, no matter the size of my McMansion. It’s the job. I work at a bank. Oh. The horror. My 15 year old self would hate me.

So, how did that happen? Well, it’s actually quite simple. We moved to Chicago after graduation – without jobs. I took the first job offer I received, a few days after moving here. I applied to and got “better” jobs as they became available. I worked hard. But I didn’t have any goals other than making money. No one year plan, no five year plan, no ten year plan. Eight years later I’m not happy with where I am and that’s no one’s fault but my own.

Don’t get caught up in job inertia – make five and ten year plans and take control of your life. Spend some time thinking about what you love to do, then plan how you’ll make it a reality. It’s taken me this much time to figure out what I want to do with my life, and now that we’re slowly putting the plan into action, I can’t wait to get out there and start living.

So what is my five year goal? Nationally recognized motivational speaker? Nah.  More to come later…