When I was younger, I loved doing anything creative. I took black and white photographs with my father. I sang; I danced; I acted. I sat in front of my neighbors’ houses sketching their facades. I even wrote lovelorn poetry for my high school literary magazine.
Then came time to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. After much consideration, I had two contenders: study musical theater, or architecture. In the end, the practical side of me won out. An architect has a better chance of getting a steady job, and I couldn’t picture myself waiting tables in between acting gigs.
So I chose a great university (The Catholic University of America) in a great town (Washington, DC) and I jumped in with both feet. I studied hard, joined the choir, got involved in student government, and soaked up all the culture DC has to offer.
But I had a problem. I had always been an A student, but I was earning Bs and Cs in my Architecture Design Studio courses. What was wrong? I was designing practical buildings, giving myself practice at what I thought I would build when I graduated. Those of my classmates who designed completely creatively with no sense of practicality got As (the long-haired guy who got top grades for his commercial building based on a banana, you shall remain nameless).
So in the summer between my Junior and Senior years, I made a decision to approach the construction field from a different angle: business management. I finished my architecture degree, and then an MBA.
Diploma in hand, I began interviewing. I was sure that with my combination of architecture and business management education, I would be a hot commodity. Who would be lucky enough to snap me up first? As it turns out, there would be no scramble for my services. I soon learned that architecture and construction firms promoted from within; partners and business managers worked for many years as apprentice architects, then full architects, then senior architects, then management. I really didn’t want to wait years to use my skills.
Fast forward twelve years later, and I had leveraged my business background into a successful career in Human Resources. I was employed by a large multi-national corporation, with exciting assignments working with employees, managers, and executives to help the business be successful. I even got to work on large acquisitions and mergers. I received honors, praise, and plum assignments. I was at the top of my game. But I was weary, and empty. There was not an ounce of creativity left in my life.
So when the company went through yet another reorganization, I took the opportunity to leave and start over. It allowed me to finally get pregnant with child #2 (our beautiful daughter), and take stock of my life.
I asked myself: what did I always dream of doing? What did I want to try before it was too late, so that I could live a life of minimal regret?
I quickly discovered that my short-list of dream jobs were full of fun, creativity, and imagination. And not very much practicality. But that’s what dreams are for, right?
With support from my family, I am actively pursuing two of those dreams: writing children’s books, and puppeteering. And I couldn’t be happier. I get to do what I love every day, along with a dream my husband and I share: to personally and actively raise two well-adjusted, loving children.
So, would I do it all again, with what I know now? Yes. Everything I have experienced and learned has informed my character.
I took a different path, and then looked up to find that I had mis-read the signs. Stepping off this road to forge my own path through the underbrush has confirmed my passion for a creative life. I am blessed to be walking this new path with those who love me, supporting me no matter which turn I take.