Think Kit, Day 7. (carves another mark in the wall)
Good things happened today: my kids and I shopped for supplies to ready our home for Christmas. My six-year-old, Oliver, beat me in a game of War (*laughing* “I’m so good at this, Mommy!” “Yes . . . but, Oliver, a monkey could play this game” *more Oliver laughing*). I had time to read. And, at the end of the day, I sat in Starbucks with Tiffany, an IUPUI senior and English major, discussing with her, among other things, why I believe that an English/other Liberal Arts major is still a relevant and useful degree.
Today’s prompt asks, What do you want your life/job/kitchen/[insert anything here] to look like? Create your own inspiration board.
When I was Tiffany’s age, I believed–as many of us that age do–that my life would unfold magically; that I would find interesting and challenging work in my area of study (English!–now you think I’m mental) and that I would somehow be “rewarded” by the world or whatever for my hard work to-date. When I did get my first grown-up job–as a college admission counselor–I’m certain I must have seen it as a somewhat edifying but ultimately impermanent opportunity where I’d learn something about being a grown up and a professional and bring home enough Big Girl Paychecks to start procuring some grown up stuff (true story: after I had a bit of $$ in the bank, I trundled off to Art Van Furniture to buy my first queen size mattress and frame–because what kind of grown up doesn’t have a proper bed? I was DONE with sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor.) And sure enough, it wasn’t a job that “stuck”–after about a year, my new husband and I started scheming about my next step and I was soon applying to grad schools in Indiana, set to conclude my time at an admission counselor after two years of work.
And then, in February of the year I was planning to enroll in grad school, we found out we were pregnant, with our baby due to arrive the end of October/early November of my first semester.
And when kids come . . . . It’s like nudging a snowball off a mountain top.
Somewhere along the way of going to grad school (YES–I did go!), working in a smattering of jobs most recently culminating in me working as a copywriter for Canadian advertising company, Yellow Pages Group, I’ve learned to see life, and my role in it, differently. Somewhere on a person’s growing-up journey we stop readying ourselves for life, and we start living it. Maybe my little family’s a-ha moment was the end of 2008 when we realized that we could actually STAY in Indianapolis–this could be our city, not just the place where we were. Why not buy a house? Why not act like this was real living? It felt pretty real to me.
If you’re lucky–and I mean this–life won’t unfold the way you think it ought to. If you’re lucky, you’ll keep your head up and see the value in whatever experience you’re in, and that’s what I told Tiffany–see, I’m coming back around to it–is so valuable about an English, a Liberal Arts degree. The liberal arts teaches you how to see the bigger picture. It teaches you how to confront life’s complexities and resurface on the other side, even if it was some of the most difficult research and thinking and writing you ever had to do in your life. It lets you approach the human condition on so many levels, and it helps you develop an empathy for how difficult it is for each of us to be here, to be human. It’s so hard–so, so hard, but it’s less difficult when you’ve had an opportunity to amass a holistic perspective of humanity, that you can draw upon as inspiration, as comfort, as fodder for endless contemplation and growth–and it’ll all remind you that you’re not alone, not at all, not even when you’re at your very worst.
What do I want my life to look like? I want my life to look like whatever it looks like. That’s not to say I don’t have goals–I do–I long for the day I’ll be able to put my education and skills to full use on behalf of something I’m passionate about–but there is SO MUCH to be seen and learned from the people we encounter, even in a situation that’s in other ways imperfect. That’s what I want for my life: to keep seeing it all, whatever it is that’s there to be seen.
So I guess, my inspiration board is the ever-lurking unknown. Is possibility.