At the ripe age of 17 I went off to Brock University to get my Undergraduate in Psychology. For the years leading up to my university application, my goal was to become a psychologist with my own radio show. I described my career aspiration to people by saying I wanted to be Dr. Phill but on the radio. (This was before I learned there was not a double degree in psychology and radio broadcasting).
I loved Brock. I loved everything about it including my classes. I was an honour student, a TA, a regular partier. I did it all and loved every minute of it. Just before graduation I had a conversation with a family member about my next steps. I wanted to go to graduate school. I wanted to get my masters and veer into social work. However, I was immediately discouraged from this, and told I was too emotional to get into that field. I listened. And less than a year later I found myself working in a bank.
Somehow, as a result of some family connections, I convinced myself and the three men who interviewed me,that I would be a good account manager. You know, mortgages, loans, investments, VISAs. That was my new career path. What none of us considered is that people don’t want to talk about their retirement plan with someone who still looks like they are 15 years old, and someone who looks like they are 15 barely understands what a retirement plan even is. (I’ve always looked young for my age)
Everyday I would sit in that office and watch the clock, and at about 2 o’clock I would really start to ask myself what the hell I was doing working in a bank?
One day, a young family came in to speak with me. They were clearly in distress. The young couple had two young kids, with dirty snow suits that were too small and dirt all over their faces. They asked me for a loan. They were in a bind and could not keep their home. Their lives were slipping away and they just needed someone to help them. But I couldn’t. There was no way their credit application would be approved. When they left my office I bawled my eyes out. I couldn’t stop. I was so disappointed in myself. I went to school so I could help people, and I could not do that at the bank.
A few LONG weeks later I decided to quit. That morning, I wrote in my journal that I would go back to school and venture in the field of Child Protection. I vowed I would do something where I could help people change their lives. So at the end of the day, I marched into my manager’s office, handed in my letter of resignation and drove all the way home with Sugarland’s Something More blasted on repeat!! I felt free!
Despite my enthusiasm my family and friends thought I was a complete screw up! Leaving a corporate job to waitress, travel and go back to school? I’m pretty sure the majority of them didn’t think I would follow through with my plan. If I recall correctly, there was a comment about me being “barefoot and pregnant” waitressing in Grand Bend for the rest of my life.
But I didn’t care. If I had learned anything, it was to not give a shit about what people think is best for ME. Or what people think is appropriate. If I had followed my gut in the first place, waitressing barefoot and pregnant wouldn’t have even been a thought. (Why the vision predicted me being barefoot, I’ll never understand. Waitresses have to wear shoes.)
FFWD after a couple summers of waitressing, a couple semesters in school, a trip to Kenya, and a tiresome job at a group home I landed a job in Child Protection, just where I had always wanted to be!
The reason I shared this is because in the past week I have had two separate conversations with women I am close to about them feeling judged about new ventures they have decided to do, both at home and at work. They spoke about not feeling supported by their family or friends which has resulted in them second guessing their paths.
I told them that a long time ago I made the decision to not give a shit about what people say! And since I made that decision, I love my life more and more as each year passes. I may not have loved every single day, or loved feeling like I wasn’t being supported or like I was being critisized for my choices, but I love that the journey I am on is mine.
But just because you decide to not give a shit, it doesn’t mean the criticism will stop. People have continued to question my judgement since I made Sugarland my theme song. Let’s be serious, what do you think people said when I started dating a recently separated man, 13 years older than me, with three kids? What do you think people said when three and a half months after we started dating I moved in with him, and then married him a year later? (Hello Rebound?) The ink on his divorce papers was barely dry when we tied the knot – but I didn’t give a shit because it was what we wanted!
There are so many women, fresh out of school and all the way up in age, who are feeling like they need to do more. There are also some that are feeling like they need to do less… but the pressure they are facing to do things a certain way, to not take risks or step out of the box is holding them back. I could go on forever about this and I am struggling to find a way to end this post so I am just going to do it by saying don’t let the pressure to be a certain way, or the worry about what people are saying, hold you back from doing what you know is right for you. As cliche as it sounds, life is way to short to not be living it in a way that makes you happy!