June and July tend to bring out a reflectiveness in me similar to the deep dive I take down memory lane every year on December 31st. The sixth and seventh months mark the half way point through the year, but they also mark the anniversaries of almost all of my graduations throughout the course of my life. Six years since high school, six years since I left my dance studio days, two years since my graduation from the last dance program I did, eleven years (gulp) since graduating from elementary school. Every year I think I see bigger, more significant change but upon recent reflection I’ve realized that in addition to moving further away from who I’ve been in the past (or who I’ve tried to be) I’ve simultaneously been moving closer and closer to the person I’ve always subconsciously known myself to be. This full circular path of travel in my personal life is mirrored in my career path.
I so vividly remember my high school self, perhaps because I spent so much of those five years analyzing myself and my life and trying to perfect the both of them. I had an unforgiving, critical eye through which I observed myself and it’s hard to forget what that feels like. Surely I’m not alone. I think for most of us high school is the time we’re most critical of ourselves. We’re trying to figure out who we are and who we want to be and what we want for our lives and how to make it happen but also how to connect with people and how to accept the self we’ve kind of always known is there deep down. But in addition to that we get wrapped up in wanting to be liked and wanting to be viewed as successful and wanting to fit in and blah blah blah…
I remember being SO concerned about money in the later years of high school. In trying to figure out what I wanted my life to look like, that’s all I could think about. I thought that it didn’t matter what I did for a career; as long as it made me a shit ton of money, I’d be happy. In the career planning classes we did I remember taking quizzes that were supposed to help you find careers that aligned with your interests. I would always get things like artist, performer, personal trainer or writer. Unsatisfied with the mediocre salaries these websites proclaimed those careers to be limited to, I would look up the jobs that made the most money. ‘Anesthesiologist’ is the one I remember being the most lucrative. Yup, I could totally do that if that’s the kind of money I’d be making, I thought. So I looked up how to become one and the requirements are basically this: one million years of school and a personality/interest profile completely opposite from mine. But dang! I’d be rich so like, whatever. I pictured myself in tailored blazers and expensive heels stepping out of my fancy car I’d just driven from my fancy home and that’s genuinely what I thought would make me happy. Aside from the delusions I clearly had about what an anesthesiologist’s daily life looked like (hello scrubs, clogs and the responsibility of someone’s life in your hands) I was also being totally dishonest with myself about what I really cared about in life.
For those of you who know me, (which if you’re reading this blog you probably do) you know that I am in fact, not an anesthesiologist. You also probably know that I hate needles. More importantly, you likely know me as a creative person who values holistic health. You know me as someone currently pursuing a career in dance, working towards a career in nutrition and writing for the love of it on some blog (hi!) I’ve fought with myself for plenty of years about needing to pursue the things I love with full force but also needing to achieve some form of ‘legitimacy’ (an illusion) by having a career in a field that other people understand. A field that other people understand because it makes money. A cushion, a back-up plan, a safety net, whatever. Well, it turns out that shortly after I abandoned that need (the need to please people, really) and gave myself fully to the pursuit of the things I actually care about, I started to gain real momentum.
Like I said earlier, it’s been six years since I’ve graduated from high school and let me tell you the path I’ve taken to get to where I am right now is about as far from linear as a path can be. To color the image of this path for you, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve done in those six years in order to find myself where I am today. I’ve completed three separate dance training programs, completed a college certificate in business administration, completed the course but failed to follow through with the testing for personal training, worked at Tim Hortons and Aritzia, spent almost as many years serving as I’ve spent teaching dance, served Jell-O shots in a bikini and hula skirt, was unemployed, seriously considered working for literally any MLM company and got my license as an insurance broker in British Columbia. Funnily enough, when I went to apply for a job as an insurance broker, the woman who interviewed me told me not to go into insurance, at least not right now. She implored me to go dance while I can and not to settle for something less than what I know I love. I think I owe a lot to her and that moment. It really did make me think about what I was trying to make of my life.
Fast forward a few years later and I feel that I’ve finally found myself where I’ve kind of always known I wanted to be. I’m not at the peak of my career by any means, but I’m doing the kind of work that makes the kind of impact I want to make. In other words, I’m on the path to where I want to go and I’m enjoying the process of getting there. I’ve learned that you can try to run away from yourself as much as you want, but as soon as you give in to your true self you open up the reservoir of possibility and abundance you’ve been constricting by trying to fit another mold. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned something from every single experience and in hindsight I don’t regret my willingness to try anything. It’s certainly been instrumental to learning the lesson I’m telling you I’ve learned here. I can’t go back now that I’m here. I can’t go back to the fear-fuelled mentality my seventeen-year-old-self maintained. I can’t go back to thinking I need both a ‘real job’ and a passion job in order to be okay in the world. I can’t unlearn the acceptance I’ve learned to graciously and generously give myself. It feels good to sit in this moment and to know that after all that, all the brain-racking, all the judgement and all the force, I accept myself and I acknowledge that the value I bring to both myself and the world is potentiated by that acceptance.