The next exciting instalment of my Year in Transition (aka Newly Single, What Next?) is setting myself up as a financially independent gal with a steady income. So I’ve started telling people I’m looking for work. Of course the helpful among us ask me what I want to do. And I stand there fumbling over words like ‘anything, I’m flexible, good question, not sure’. Leaving the person in front of me no doubt wanting to help but with nothing clearer to guide them.
Sometimes in order to look forward, it’s helpful to look back. What did I dream of doing and what actually happened?
As a kid I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. My best friend Roslyn and I planned to share a house and write children’s books together. Our illustrator would be my brother, who would either live in the attic or in a house next door (we hadn’t decided). Roslyn and I compiled (ok, stapled together) a single edition newspaper with completely fabricated articles – ‘Mrs Smith has traffic accident on Wednesday’. We were no doubt inspired by my parents who had recently established a local newspaper (the now defunct Gisborne and Macedon Telegraph).
There were other primary school moments of glory – winning a short story competition, blitzing spelling tests and the absolute highlight when my Grade 4 teacher (Mrs Wasnig) allowed me to plan and run an English class. I chose the Coles Funny Picture Book and presented silly stories and naughty poems. I was in heaven.
Writing lost its appeal through high school and Uni when I’d deeply procrastinate in the face of impending essay deadlines. Later, I started looking for an exit strategy when one of my jobs, as a University Student Counsellor, urged us to work less with clients and more on developing written client resources and policy documents.
In my teens I became enthralled with the idea of becoming a Psychologist. I even took to observing my fellow students behaviour on the school bus and recording my insights onto a small notepad. This dream hit the skids when applying for University. My Year 12 grades were just not quite good enough for a Psychology Degree, but were more than adequate for an Arts Degree. So Arts it was. During first year I made two life-changing discoveries – psychology was apparently all about studying Stats and Rats (what? maths is not my thing and animals? glad I dodged that bullet) and secondly I stumbled on Social Work.
Looking at the Social Work Course outline I realised it was what I thought studying psychology was going to offer. Withdraw Bachelor of Arts , apply for Bachelor of Social Work and away I went for the next four years, tumbling out at the end a fully fledged feminist working with women who had experienced domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.
In my early twenties I liked the sound of owning a large sheep station in the outback and having a team of men work under me (I know, I know). I’d grown up spending blissful summers on my grandparents’ large sheep station in NSW. And in between finishing high school and starting Uni (what is now called gap year, we just called it deferring) I worked as a Governess at a massive station in outback Western Australia. I was a teacher (of sorts) and living the outback lifestyle, combining two of my joyful childhood experiences.
During Uni summer holidays I supplemented my income by heading north and working as a shearers cook and roustabout. So by my mid twenties owning a station held a certain appeal which has, now in my forties, completely evaporated.
Another twenties dream was to be a radio presenter, which presented itself from left field. While at boarding school in Year 11 and 12 and during my Uni days I was into folk music. We went to Folk Festivals, drunk beer and had our bottoms pinched by hairy-faced men. And listened to lots of folk music. So when the bluestone Uni in town was looking for more volunteer radio presenters for their weekly Sunday morning Folk Show, I gave it a go. After the requisite training to run the control panel, I was on the roster. The radio station was located right in the heart of town (prime real estate for just a Uni radio station) with a big glass window facing the main road and pedestrians streaming passed. They didn’t stream past on a Sunday morning, thankfully.
Every couple of weeks I’d catch the bus into town clutching my chosen records and playlist and present a one hour Folk Show. It was nerve-wracking at times. Songs to cue up, then fade out, intros, back announcing. Crossing to the BBC World Service right on the hour. It was live radio, plenty of opportunities to stuff up yet I quite enjoyed it. Seed planted, I did a bit more radio training which included the nugget of knowledge that those of us wanting a career in commercial radio would need an interest in sports. It was unavoidable and required. I had, and still have, zero interest in sports. And that was the end of my radio days.
In my mid twenties I wanted to be a witch. I lived in eastern Canada and had my first experience with pagans and witches. I bought ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’, ‘The Beauty Myth’, a tarot deck and books on witchcraft. We played with casting spells, went on weekends together and sat out under the moon in our makeshift coven and learnt about the Maiden, Mother and Crone. I toyed with changing my name to Ruby. I still claim a part of me as Witch today, although my spirituality has expanded well beyond pagan labels.
In my early thirties, I hit on the idea of becoming a Life Coach. I had been working as a Counsellor and Trainer in the same organisation for five years and was looking for a change. In the late 1990’s the phenomenon of Coaching was slowly trickling from the USA into Australia. So in one instance I went from thinking ‘I should get myself a Coach to help me with my next job move’ to ‘I could be a Coach’! So I enrolled in a US-based Life Coach training course, which over the course of ten years I slowly completed.
It wasn’t till I did my Health Coach certification that I realised I could combine my Life Coaching and background in counselling and therapy and become an Holistic Life Coach.
By my thirties I wanted to be Australia’s answer to Oprah Winfrey. This dream, I’ll suggest, is held by many women. Some share their dream, others keep it secret. But c’mon, who wouldn’t want to be a self-expressed, entrepreneurial juggernaut with her own global platform to share the message of self-love, personal enquiry, spiritual enlightenment and transformation (latter-day Oprah at her finest). Clearly a dream that needs no further explanation.
More recently, in my forties, my Oprah dream evolved to travelling the world sharing my message of…well, you know, Life. I’m assuming there’s still plenty of life in that dream.
Looking back, the main thread that links my dreams with what I actually did was my love of connecting with others and communicating. Between the lines, my resume overflows with work experience that reflects my desire to create meaningful connections. I seek out opportunities to communicate from the heart.
Apparently as humans we have a capacity to reflect on our past and see how we have changed over time. Yet we find it harder to believe that our future selves will be different to who we are today. We believe that we are there, this is it.
So I have no doubt, as I leap? swan dive? into this next unknown adventure of Newly Single life the Universe will conspire to serve me up whatever I’m meant to be doing. It may look like what I’ve done in the past, it may be completely different. In the meantime, I prepare myself for another reassuring dose of Trust and Surrender.
What did you want to be as a child or young adult? Are you doing that today? Do you still have childhood dreams you want to fulfill? I’d love to hear in the Comments below!
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