April 14, 2009
Most of my time between the ages of 18 and 23 was spent in an all-out, concerted effort to find myself. If I were a betting woman, I'd place some money on the assumption that all too many of you know exactly what I'm talking about.
I would wake up in the morning, audibly ask "Who am I?," and spend the rest of the day hopping from class to bookstores to the natural food co-op in a cold hard sweat. I had no idea what made me tick, and holy hell, it was stressing me out.
Turns out I was nothing more than a cute young student, with a rockin' body, who liked to roller blade and make out with boys. Simple enough. To this day, I still wonder why the coming of age process was so unbelievably difficult for me. I was a girl who enjoyed Dairy Queen and The Gap--what in the holy heavens is so complicated about that?
These days, if someone were to put on their most serious face and ask, "Amy. Who are you?" I would probably say something like, "I'm the girl who's about to go take a poop in my office bathroom." Or, "I'm a woman who finds great satisfaction in nagging." Or, "Here, look at these stretch marks." Because honestly? That about sums me up.
During my five-year mission to decode the mystery of me, I often found myself fantasizing about work. I know, these days it sounds utterly ridiculous, but back then I honestly thought that a career would fill me with joy, provide me with purpose, and pave my avenue to becoming a revolutionary world changer--all while providing excellent health and dental benefits.
It was a nice thought.
Now, as a 28-year-old working mother, my career has boiled down to nothing more that two simplicities...1) Work is a means to pay my overdue telephone bill, and 2) Work affords me the opportunity to listen to whatever music I want. It honestly has very little to do with "who I am."
When I look back at my romantic expectations of a career five or ten years ago, I can't help but snicker. Let's take last night for example...
I've been contracted by a town to do some consulting work. I know, sounds glamorous. Guess what--it's not. I'm overseen by a local steering committee, and last night we had a meeting where I was supposed to update all twelve members on my progress, get some feedback, and brainstorm a few ideas on what my next steps might be.
I pulled into the parking lot with four minutes to spare, and spotted the co-chairs of the committee leaning against a truck, shooting the shiz about who-knows-what. Aside from the truck, and my own car, there was only one other vehicle in the entire lot. "If that thing isn't a clown car," I thought, "then no one's showing up to this meeting."
And I was right. No one, including the person with the key to the building, decided to show up last night. So there we stood, the co-chairs and me, conducting the meeting in the middle of an elementary school parking lot, in 38 degree weather, with wind gusts topping out at 25 miles per hour. Agendas were flapping in the breeze and no one could hear a damn thing that anyone else was saying.
I was like, "HERE ARE THE BROCHURES THAT I HAD PRINTED UP. WHY DON'T YOU
EACH TAKE THREE?"
And they were like, "WHAT???!!!"
So I was all, "HERE! THE BROCHURES! TAKE SOME!" And just like that, they were scattered all over the parking lot, three adults were running in circles to catch them, and every time I bent down to retrieve a stray flyer, I'm quite sure I exposed the crack of my ass to the middle-aged co-chairs.
After the wrinkly flyers had been retrieved, one of the gentlemen asked me a very legitimate question. "Amy," he said, "how can we keep these committee members interested?"
"Pay them," I offered?
"We can't pay them," he replied. "This is a volunteer committee."
"Well," I continued, "then I guess it'll just be the three of us standing around in this parking lot."
Not quite what I had in mind ten years back.