Where do you see yourself in ten years?
If you’ve ever been to a job interview, or an annual review, or even to your high school guidance counselor you’ve likely been asked this question, and if you’re anything like me the answer is never as simple and straightforward as the questioner makes it seem. They expect you to give an answer along the lines of “I see myself in a corner office as a high ranking manager of the company” or something like that. They want you to show that you have ambition and drive and are motivated to progress forward in your corporate career, climbing that proverbial ladder one rung at a time. I tend to give a blank stare for a moment while I visualize my future, then try to think fast and give whatever answer I feel this particular boss is searching for to stroke their ego and make them feel good about themselves so they will give me my 3-4% raise for the year.
In reality what I see in my mind is a crisp, clear, almost too vivid image of the future I hope to one day see. I can see in exact detail the house I want to live in, the property, my wife and son playing in the backyard. I can see the archery range along one side of the tree line, and the deck that overlooks the property. I can see the workshop in the side yard complete with kiln, forge, wood shop and electronics in their own corners of the building. I see the recording studio stocked with instruments, the painting room for my wife that takes the place of the corner office complete with 2 walls of glass to provide an ample view of the scenery as inspiration. I see the kitchen we have always talked about, with room for more than one person at a time, something I can’t say for our current kitchen. I picture the library, with 20 foot ceilings and stocked shelves going all the way up. I can even see the leather chairs, with their slightly cracked cushions from wear of a family who spends countless evenings reading together.
I can see all this as clearly as if it were a memory of this morning’s walk around the house, yet this is not the answer the bosses want to hear. Nowhere in my vision is a career. Nowhere is me spending my days working my heart out for them. So I do as we all do when talk to our bosses, I lie. I tell them about the things I want to do for the company, where I want my professional career to be. I put on a good show and inflate that ego to as near its breaking point as I dare.
Truth is this is the vision that has been in my mind for years, and every time a career works its way into my vision it’s only there as an explanation of how I can afford this. Along the years I have had so many ideas of things I could do to make enough money that I would never have to rely on working for someone else again. Ideas like things I could invent and sell or a program or app I could write that would take off and become the next Instagram that I could sell to Facebook for 6 billion dollars. The only thing that has made an appearance over and over again since I was a child is writing.
Every couple of years I think about writing, about turning it into a job, something I love doing that could earn me money. After all, isn’t that the dream, to make a living doing what we love? Writing has so many appealing aspects to me that it’s easy for me to rationalize why I am drawn to it. It can be done in the comfort of my own home, allowing me more time with my family. There is potential for good income in writing, I know I will never be the next Stephen King, or George R.R. Martin, but I like to think that someday I would be able to afford the things I see in my dreams, to be able to afford to tell my wife that she doesn’t need to work anymore. That she doesn’t have to spend another shift being treated in ways that make her feel lower than dirt. To tell her she never needs to spend another holiday season working so many hours that she all but disappears from our lives for months.
I don’t know if my dream will ever be anything more than a dream, but it’s something to hold onto, to hope for. Writing is something I can see myself doing in my future, sitting my leather chair and writing, watching my wife paint, the thought brings a smile to my face even now.
Now if only I could finish a story, any story, and share it with someone to find out if there is even a glimmer of hope that someday people might spend their hard earned money on something that I wrote. By the time I’m more than a few pages into a story I always start tearing myself down and criticize myself to the point that I put the pen and paper away and don’t touch them again for years. It scares me to share my work with anyone, because if I do, and they confirm that my “skill” is really not anything worth mentioning that my dream may slip away from me forever.
I truly hope that my new community here in the blogosphere will keep me writing, keep me improving, keep me going so maybe someday before another 10 years passes I will get to see at least a little bit of my dream.
How about you? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
photo credit: lululemon athletica
I came across this old picture when I was reorganizing the attic to make more room for some of my clutter to be relocated from downstairs. One glance and I was swept right off my feet and back all those years ago. The acrid smell of an old smoky Buick tickles my nose at what used to be my favorite place in the entire world. This was my safe place, where I could go to escape my world and just let the wind flow through my hair as I went round and round.
I think about this time in my life far more frequently than I would like, the pain from those years torments my dreams to this day. I ran the two blocks from my house to get here on this day, ran as fast as my legs could carry me to get away, to escape, to just feel the wind, and block out the world. It didn’t work, I couldn’t block the world out, I couldn’t escape for even a moment today.
My father’s screams still echoed in my ears as I sat, trying to understand why he was so mad lately, trying to figure out what I had done to make him so mad. He wasn’t yelling at me, looking back I don’t think he was even yelling at my mother, he was yelling because he was scared. He was scared and he didn’t know what else to do, so he yelled. Of course this was far beyond the comprehension of my 6 year old mind, to me he was yelling because of something I did.
Admittedly even then the park had lost something for me, some of the joy had been leached out of it since my brother had gotten sick, I miss playing with him, miss him spinning me around and swinging next to me. I didn’t understand the gravity of what was happening to him, I only knew he was sick, and he didn’t get better, even after a day in bed and some of mom’s magical chicken noodle soup that always cured me when I was sick.
I still think about those days, I always seem to find ways to blame myself for what happened, tell myself he got sick, and we lost him because of that day we went out and played in the rain and mud puddles. I tell myself if I would made him eat his broccoli instead of helping him slip it to the dog that maybe he would have been stronger, maybe he could have fought harder.
I know none of that is true, know there is nothing I could have done, nothing anyone could have done, but I still blame myself.
I blame myself for my father falling apart afterwards, for failing to be a good enough daughter, failing to take his place after my brother was gone. I blame myself for his drinking, his depression, the life devouring alcoholism that claimed him only a few years later.
I’ll never understand how my mother kept going, how she put on her best fake smile for me as I got on the school bus each morning, how she went to work, kept us fed and clothed, I’ll never understand where that strength came from. I know she hurt so deeply that words could never reach the places inside where she held her pain, comfort and peace could not make that journey, the walls were too high.
It was several years later before I knew this picture even existed, a neighbor had been out bird watching, and took this picture of me. She gave it to me when I graduated high school, thinking it would remind me of my happy place, and brighten my day. She could have never know how I would break down and crumple to the floor when she handed it to me.
And here I am, crumpled on floor again, tears streaking my face as I remember this place, remember the pain, remember the loss. Faded memories that I somehow keep blowing the dust off of, keep restoring their vivid pain to my heart.