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Starting On Purpose

Updated: May 22, 2020

NOTE: This post was originally published on April 14, 2018. On May 7, 2020, my re-designed website went live, simultaneously re-publishing all of my old blog posts.

Like many members of my generation, I suffer from this nagging feeling that I am meant to accomplish something great, something meaningful and impactful and remarkable and original. This drive was downloaded into us by our parents, the boomers, who enacted change just by the sheer number of them.

Now, I’m not going to generalize about how they had it easy because my parents certainly did not. The one thing I am willing to say they all have in common is that when they had children, they told them that they could be anything wanted to be.

Some were more practical with their aspiration inspiration, hoping their kids would take it and run all the way to med school with it. Others, like my parents, instilled in us a more general, dreamy sense of entitlement with one teensy little asterisk in the fine print. One tiny addendum to the limitless possibilities laid out in front of us; we’ll take care of them when they’re old.

I learned that theatre/acting was not a viable career option in Civics and Careers when my teacher strongly encouraged (strong-armed, more like it) me to pick something more realistic to base my presentation on. I chose Interior Designer, even though there was no way I would ever succeed in architecture with all the math, physics and visual art…

There was a time when I thought I could be a Lawyer (thanks to Elle Woods) but wasn’t completely sold on the years of study and reams of paperwork. Then, after I had somehow done so well in Grade 11 Bio that my teacher encouraged me to fast-track to Grade 12 Bio in my second semester, I considered being a Biologist. Science was never my strong suit, so it felt like I was being called to something.

Even though I was absolutely in love with theatre, I still had that asterisk hanging out in my back pocket like a curse. So, with some research, I decided to study Forensic Science. I thought it was the perfect way to marry my interest in law and science, and besides, I loved all of the versions of CSI that were out there.

I worked my butt off to do well in subjects that did not come naturally to me, I wrote a bangin’ admission essay and ultimately, I was one of 50 students who got accepted to Trent University’s Forensic Science Program the year I graduated. That felt like an Elle-Woods-style sign if there ever was one.

Then, a couple months before graduation, I went on a band trip to NYC. Our first stop was Les Mis on Broadway and let me tell you, the emotions welled up to the point of near-drowning. Sitting in that gorgeous theatre, it really hit me that I was turning my back on my one true love by having decided to pursue a BSc.

Truthfully, I did fine in my first year. Better than I expected to, considering I was probably the least likely Forensic Science student in my program.

What really did me in though was that at a callback for a musical being produced by a student-led theatre company, I was asked about my course schedule and discovered that it conflicted 100% with the show’s rehearsal schedule. I was actually skipping a Stats Lecture to be there. Realizing that I couldn’t do both, I knew something had to change.

I transferred into the Theatre Studies program at the University of Guelph and never looked back. That is until I found myself unemployed after a not-so-great experience working for a theatre company shortly after graduation.

Since then, I’ve been in a recurring failure sweat-dream.

My resume ping-pongs all over the place, from working in tech support to working for a sex-themed consumer show to working for an airline and then working for a Spa… While I’ve enjoyed aspects of each of these roles, no one role has given me everything I needed to pay the bills and be happy at least most of the time.

When interviewing for the role I have now, I was asked that cliched question of where I wanted to be in 5 years. I answered honestly that I wasn’t sure where that was, but all I knew was I wanted to be happy. Life is simply too short to be spent doing something that doesn’t make you happy.

My dad passed away two years ago, just short of his 60th birthday. I was supposed to take care of him when he was old and he never got to get old. He and my mom had just set out on a path toward their retirement when it happened very suddenly and truthfully, our entire world fell apart.

A lot has happened since then, too many things to recount in one blog post or even several. My mom is in college now, working through a second-career program and she’s doing just fine. I’m not as worried about lining up my life to make sure I can take care of her when she’s old.

So then, what am I supposed to do?

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