You could say it all started with our family’s little white poodle Pepita…affectionately called Peppy. I used to hug on her constantly and would take her with me to hide behind a large potted plant of my mom’s whenever I was in trouble. Or sad. Or mad. Or just moody. Peppy was my pet but she was also my ride or die. Then came Fula and Sabrina, Boots and Sundance. All my life I have always had a dog so, in answer to the above question, my natural instinct was to want to be a veterinarian.
That all came to a literal screeching halt when my beloved black poodle Sabrina Renee (don’t all dogs have middle names?!) was hit by a car in front of our house and the vet couldn’t save her. I realized right then and there that I could never be that person who couldn’t save someone’s four-legged family member.
In a more “pie in the sky” sense, I also dreamed of being either Laurie Partridge or Chris Evert. I loved to sing and I loved tennis but in reality, those dreams were most definitely more dream-like than life-like. Then there was Nancy Drew; oh how I loved her and her books and had visions of catching sleuths and discovering hidden gems. Ironically and in a very round-about way, my eventual career allowed me to do just that!
It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered that career and my true calling. I was a college freshman and met with an advisor because I hadn’t declared a major and was somewhat floundering academically. She asked what my interests were and I said Political Science, History, and English but that I wasn’t interested in teaching. She thought it over like a good advisor does and then suggested I consider Journalism because it kinda combines all three. Bingo! I had my answer and I had my career.
After agreeing on a major we then had to decide on a school. She researched universities with good Journalism schools and through nothing but what I like to call a “God wink,” I decided on the University of Oklahoma. I didn’t know a soul in Oklahoma and had never been there but I loved football and in what felt like overnight, my parents were driving me to Norman. From day one it was the perfect place for me and I will be forever grateful to OU for not only shaping my career but changing my life. Looking back, I wish so bad I could remember that advisor’s name to thank her for helping me climb those stairs to success in a way I would have never dreamed of. Even in my childhood dreams.
But what if I that little child in me would have gone on to become a vet? Or stuck with tennis or singing? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been the next Laurie Partridge or Chris Evert, but maybe I would have saved many a family pet’s life. It’s probably best that becoming a vet was squelched cuz turns out I am not a math and science kind of girl. I’m a word girl and would have probably been lost in a small animal vet curriculum.
As fate would have it, I did end up teaching, albeit preschool at our former church, and it was something I loved. I also worked in both the sports and music industries as a reporter and publicist, with the former being the most fun and energizing job I ever had. As for Nancy Drew, well, I didn’t uncover any great mysteries but maybe reading all those books of hers inspired me to write.
When it all comes down to it, you have to believe in yourself and yet be able to pivot when necessary. Don’t get caught up in other people’s demands or approval of where you want to go and who you want to be. Instead, take Ayn Rand’s advice and tell yourself, “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
You just never know how life will unfold, right? Work hard and hustle. Follow your heart but also have a Plan B. And maybe even a Plan C. Go with your gut but go with your strengths too. And it goes without saying that you’ll probably also have to take risks but always make wise decisions. As Stephen Covey said, “I am not a product of my circumstances. I’m a product of my decisions.” Build those dreams people, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.
What about you? What was your childhood dream job? Did you achieve it? Did you end up doing something completely different? Why? Have you made sure to gain both knowledge and wisdom? Are you making a living…and making a life? Please share!