Monday, November 16, 2009

Growing Up

*Author's note: I edited the 3rd from the bottom paragraph to reflect, that I actually do like living on foreign soils.

One of the best parts of being home was being taken care of by my parents. Even though I am thirty-three years old, and quite independent, it was nice to be under the watchful eye of loving caregivers. As it turns out, however, this thirty-three year old independent girl is still quite dependent.

While I was home I went to the dentist (no cavities!!), bought a new computer, and updated my wardrobe a bit--all thanks to mom and dad. I couldn't have done any of that without the financial backing of my more solvent parental unit. Their wonderful generosity, for which I am incredibly grateful, provided a mean sort of revelation that at my age, and especially after all the career choices I have made, I am not self-reliant.

Due to the economic crisis, and the recent Sunday School lesson on self-reliance, this fact weighed down on my mind. My career choice isn't turning into what I want. (Again.) And worse, it isn't even helping me survive as an adult. Part of the problem is that I live in Dubai, and my boss pays me less here than what I could bring home in the States. The payment of a "great experience" has far from panned out as well. And now I hate my once-hobby. Once again I feel like I am back at square one, and still trying to figure out this whole "being a grown-up" business.

It is an interesting sort of challenge to choose one's life-work or career. We have so many choices, and thanks to Barbie, girls like me feel they can do anything (like Barbie!--please note that she is now a Fairy Princess, and that isn't a very lucrative career choice). Perhaps if I lived in the 1950's my career choice would be easier as they would pretty much be limited to: teacher, secretary, nurse, and mother. Maybe growing up would be easier with less choices.

Part of the trouble of trying to figure out "what we want to be when we grow up" is because we tend pigeon-hole "be" as the type of occupation, and we forget there is a bit more to being a grown-up. Maybe at age five we should have asked ourselves, "what kind of life do I want to have when I grow up," and then we could find the career that fits in with that lifestyle.

And that is the scale I am going to use from here on out in deciding my adult behavior. Here's what I've figured out so far:

I'm not very good with desk jobs; I get easily distracted and end up writing more personal emails than business ones. I like having real weekends, and holidays off. I like to spend time with my family, and yet I like to travel away from them. I need a place that fosters creativity and problem solving. I prefer to have interaction--I'm pretty sure I have cubicle-induced ADHD. I want time for projects, hobbies, and things I want to learn like upholstering or other languages. I want to have friends close by--new and old. I want to use those foreign language skills that I acquired. I want to dress up for work; my spirit needs to dress up, and I fear I've forgotten how to do it. And if I bake for money, it will be small projects on my time off or a summer farmer's market. And when I bake for fun, it will not be cupcakes. And finally, when I live in a different country I want to be able to actually live in that country--not just work the whole time.

I think I have figured out a path, but would like your input as well (yes, a request for comments). In the meantime, I will plan on returning to school. And in April I will be back under my parent's roof, letting them take care of me, hanging out in their bedroom watching Criminal Minds and eating popcorn while I get all of this figured/planned out.

Now, however, I have to go finish my laundry because, unfortunately, my mom isn't here to do it for me. And it is one of the few grown-up things I can do successfully, after all.


Jacks said...

I love this. I think about it all the time. And you said it exact. I don't have recommendations for you. I'm still trying to figure out my own path. But I love that you took and had the support to try out something that most of us would have never been able to do.

And you're right. I'm not asking my girls what they want to be when they grow up. Nope - the question is now officially: what kind of life do you want to live?

And thanks for the reality check. Now I have to remove fairy off my list of options.

One of a dozen said...

Hey Meredith, this is Mary's sister Bekah. I'm in a similar boat right now. I'm 31 and I just got laid off from a job that wasn't very fulfilling. I'm trying to decide if I want to go after jobs like the one I lost or if I should start over and get another degree. I really like how you've listed what you want out of life, rather than what you want to "be". I think I'll try it out for myself. Out of curiosity, what are you going to study?

Malesa said...

I wish I could think of a good job, but right now, my mind is blank. I think from the description you gave, it would be along the lines of a more self-employed route though. That is good.
I also want to let you know that I saw a girl at church yesterday that from the backside looked just like you. (Her clothes were adorable and that also reminded me of you). It made me miss you and just want to say hi!
Good luck on the career hunt. I'll keep thinking. :)

Cristi Johnson said...

You should be a teacher in the suburbs. :) Strange suggestion coming from a former teacher, but I hear it's quite fulfilling. You dress up, solve problems, spend little time at a desk, and interact with tons of people. I just went back to school myself. I'm halfway through my first semester of architecture school and I love it, although it is strange to be starting over. Good luck in your search.

B & E said...

Although I don't usually post anything on your blog, I enjoy reading it. Your mother had told me that you were thinking of a career change and possibly teaching. I think it would be great for you, maybe secondary ed where you could use your language skills. Good luck in your choice. Don't ever think that this time that you have spent out of the US is a waste because IT IS NOT. It will be an asset for the rest of your life and what you choose to do.

Amy said...

Don't worry about finding out what you will be when you grow up. I was 33 when we had that talk and you guided me down the photography path. Which i am sooo glad that you did!!! You are aresome and wonderful. So it doesn't really matter what you do!!!

Love You

merebuff said...

I am really thinking about teaching--which is something I thought about at the same time I switched to baking. But do I want to teach French to middle/high school students? That is important to think about.


What ever you choose will be great. We want you to be happy. We are looking forward to have you come home until you decide what to do. We are almost finished with the basement so you and Andrea will all intents and purposes have your own apartment.Except the kitchen.YOu can either cook for yourselves or eat as a family with us.We just want you to know that we love you and miss you very much.

W.E. said...

You need to look into teaching at an international school. You probably won't enjoy teaching at a public school due to administrative issues as well as student body engagement, and us private schools tend to get a more "entitled" group of kids. International schools will offer you chances for travel, both by yourself and as part of work, and the mix of kids can be a bit more eclectic.