My Career Goals Over the Years

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We all get asked this question at various stages in our lives. What no one tells you is that adults still feel as though they are wandering, and they still ask themselves this question. I think the U.S has an especially career-centric culture, in some places more than others. I live in New York, and while I live in the suburbs, I feel like there’s still a very fast-paced atmosphere where “What do you do?” is the first thing someone asks you.

I definitely know of people who say they don’t need a career that defines them. They feel a job is just a job, and it allows them to put food on the table and that’s all that matters. I sort of envy people who genuinely feel this way. Having a career that I can be passionate about has always been important to me. And I want to surround myself with people who feel passionately about their work as well. I don’t think people who value their careers are necessarily happier, in fact I think people like this are never satisfied, but I do think they’re the ones who blaze trails. I want to blaze a trail and leave my mark on the world.

Still, I wasn’t one of the those people who’s always known what she wanted to be. When I was a kid, the first career I remember aspiring to was wanting to be a pastry chef. I told my mom that I would open a bakery and make cupcakes for her all the time.

When we played the game Life (ya know, that board game that takes a hellishly long time to complete), I always was excited when I was able to pick the artist card for my career. Instinctively I knew I just NEEDED to be some sort of artist. And in many ways, I’ve done that for the past few years. I’ve written a bunch of poetry and fiction, wrote for a magazine, made lots of art, and I’ve been very poor.

No one tells you how lonely and challenging being an artist can really be. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. But I realized that being able to support myself and having something to fall back on is super important. I can’t rely on getting a job by chance, like my parents many other Boomers did.

When I was a little older, I decided I wanted to be an interior designer. I thought that sounded like the funnest job ever (and I still do!), and I used to draw designs in my sketch pad.

Sometime around middle school, my aspirations became more social. I went through a phase where I wanted to be a massage therapist, and I would give massages to people in my family. By the time I reached high school, I’d decided that I wanted to be a pediatrician because I wanted to help kids.

Through all of these ideas, the arts were still very important to me. They were my passion. I still liked to draw and write poetry. I liked singing in my music classes. I didn’t always like high school, but my arts classes always kept me going. Things really changed for me in the tenth grade when I started acting.

I performed, took acting classes, did shows through my church, and took every opportunity I could to stay involved with theater. During my senior year, I attended an arts high school alongside my regular one and was a drama major there. I was surrounded by lot of other people who planned to study theater in college, so it inspired me to pursue theater in college as well.

By the time I’d taken my SAT’s and applied to college, I’d decided that I wanted to pursue a career as an actress. I went on auditions, and got accepted to a few theater programs. It was all really fun! But by the time I’d gotten to college, I felt really pressured to have a plan for my life, and I just didn’t have one.

I had way too many passions that I wanted to follow my career. I wanted to act, I wanted to write, I wanted to sing, I wanted to help people. I wanted too many things at once, and it gave me a lot of stress. By my sophomore year, I’d changed my major to English so I could focus on writing, but I still had a lot of ambition with no real plan.

It’s not that I thought a theater or English degree would get me a job. But I did think that, like most people I knew, I could get a job unrelated to what I studied. I imagined myself working in an office somewhere while I pursued my art on the side, or maybe working in advertising or publishing. I didn’t realize how hard it would really be to get a job in the communications field.

Now, I’m back to having goals in more social careers. I’m pursuing a master’s degree in social work, and I have a plan to be a mental health counselor, or to work in higher education as a career counselor, professor, or some sort of program director. It’s good, because it fulfills that desire I’ve always had to help others.

As for the artist in me, she’s still there, burning with lots of passion but not much direction unfortunately. I’ve done a lot of writing, but it’s not all I want to do, and it’s not all I want to be known for. I want to keep writing, but I also want to make visual art. I want to perform. I want to use the arts to address social issues as well. This is an area where I don’t have as concrete of a vision, probably because it’s much more self-motivated than other kinds of work, and it’s motivated by something other than money.

I learned a few years ago that my career types are artistic, social, and investigative. This makes a lot of sense, and it fits in with everything I’ve ever wanted to do. My personality type is also INFJ, and being an artist and social worker fits well with that as well. It feels good to know that there’s different types of work that can fit each of us.

I’m 24, and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But I have more clarity than I did before, I’m more knowledgeable about my opportunities. I don’t want a job that’s just a job. I want something I can be passionate about. My ambitions have changed a bit over the years, but one thing hasn’t. I don’t want to settle. I want to find work that is right for me.

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Bi Girl Problems

Trying to find a girlfriend is hard. Like, looking for a needle in a hay stack hard. But to be honest, I think it’s true what they say. Love finds you when you’re not looking for it. Whenever I wasn’t looking for a relationship, there were always opportunities to meet new people, and there were always people who could have been on my radar (or, ya know, gaydar). Now that I’m looking, opportunities to meet new people are just a bit scarce. The world of online dating is a bit too stressful, and a bit too much of a numbers game for me to navigate.

Also, I can’t help but want the story of how I meet someone to be something other than, “We both swiped right on Tinder.” I think it’s awesome that technology can bring people together. Heck, I’ve made some really cool friends online. But when it comes to dating, I almost want to pretend it’s the 80s and that I have to meet people the “old fashioned” way.

I’m also the kind of person who wants to know someone a bit before I date them. Starting a relationship with dating is just so weird to me. Because if you’re dating, of course you’re going to lie about things, or hide things you’re scared the other person won’t like. Not to mention that you’re way less likely to know if the other person is, like, an ax murderer.

I’m kind of in a transition period right now. I’m starting grad school in a few months, and I’ll be moving four hours away from home. I’m broke as hell and am trying to get a temp job I won’t want to quit in the first week. I’m excited to start my master’s degree, but I’m also nervous. I hope it’s a positive experience overall. Where I’m going is a bit colder and snowier than where I live now. But it’s also very beautiful and the people are nice.

We all know that grad students just have SO much time to date (not), but I’m hoping I’ll be able to balance school and my personal life. I want to do well in my program, but I want to enjoy my time there, too. I want to take advantage of the opportunities I’ll have.

On some levels, I think taking a break from school gives me an advantage to someone who goes to grad school right away. I know what it’s like to apply for jobs, to be an unpaid intern, to get paid to do work I can’t stand, and to be self-motivated. I also realized that I want to move to an affordable city after I graduate, and I have a few ideas for the kind of career I want. I have a vision and a plan, which is something I did not have when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in English.

I’ll try to stop looking for love. I’ll try to let it find me. I’m different in this aspect of my life than I was a few years ago, too. This time, I know what I want. And when love does find me again, I’ll be ready.

 

Childhood Memories and Reflections

When I was a kid, I used to go to my grandma’s house every day after school. And I was usually there in the summer, when my parents were at work. I’d always bring a book to read, or my sketch pad, or one of my poetry journals to pass the time. I’d also play outside with my cousin and other kids in the neighborhood. I was never a kid who felt popular or social or well-like. I was teased or bullied a lot. But the older I’ve gotten, the more I learned that you don’t need to have a lot of friends or be liked by everyone. A few good friends are far more valuable.

I’m only 24 years old, but it’s amazing how much has changed. When I was younger, there were no smart phones, and most kids didn’t have a cell phone until they were thirteen. I didn’t use social media, most of it didn’t exist yet anyway. I never had a MySpace page. The most I used a computer for was to play games on Nick.com. When I did get my first cell phone in middle school, it was a silver flip phone and I only used it to text my mom.

My grandma was a smoker. She drank coffee every morning, and her favorite foods included shrimp, avocado, scrambled eggs with bacon, and crab cakes. She watched soap operas every day, so me and my cousin were very familiar with General Hospital and The Young and the Restless. She watched the news a lot. She wasn’t always easy to get along with, which is something only my family (and a handful of nurses) could understand, but she still did a lot for the family. She used to take my cousin and I to the park, and would make us sit at the kitchen table until we finished eating our dinner.

We also had to eat our food before we could have juice so we wouldn’t fill up on the drink first. My cousin and I used to take our food to the trash, one forkful at a time, if we didn’t want to finish it all, and were too scared of getting caught if we dumped the whole plate. We used to draw with crayons under the coffee table in the living room, playing tic tac toe, but it wasn’t discovered until years later, when she got a new table.

Grandma liked opera music. She used to sit in her car for a while, just to listen to it. She used to make the best lemonade I’ve ever had, and she also made really good spaghetti and meatballs. She used to drive me crazy when I was younger because she would never. stop. talking. Even when I was trying to do my homework. She used to to say she loved me, and that she thought I always sounded so sweet on the phone.

When I was still figuring out my career, she said she thought I would make a good school teacher. It’s kind of funny. A part of me regrets not being certified to teach, even though I don’t want to teach k-12. I have an interest in teaching at the college level, though, and I’m pursuing my master’s degree in social work. I may still end up working in a school after all.

She always liked when we would go to her son Frankie’s house for Thanksgiving because he lived in a nice house out east. There was a lot of peace, quiet, and nature, so she liked to spend some time outside to look at the trees.

I always liked writing and art classes. My cousin liked playing basketball and dancing. I don’t have siblings, but I was always at their house, so we basically grew up together.

In a lot of ways, I’m still the same person. I still write poetry and make art. I still sing and love expressing myself. I’m still patient and want to help people. But I’m also more confident, at least I’m trying to be.

I had a good childhood because of my family. I always had people there to help me, and to take care of me. I know that I’m blessed with a lot of love. My journey has been shaped by everything I had when I was younger, all of the things I didn’t have to work for.

Now that I’m older, the future can feel really uncertain. It feels like I have to figure everything out on my own. I still have my family, of course. But I feel like I’m always worrying, always feeling like I’m not doing enough. When I was in school, succeeding there was enough. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find that kind of focus again in grad school.

I’m turning 25 in one month, and I find myself feeling like a failure again and again, because I want to succeed in everything all at once. I feel like I’m being pulled in so many different directions. I look to the future and feel uncertain. I look to the past, and I feel regrets. But I also feel blessed, and loved. The good moments of the past will always belong to me. They are treasures I can carry on my journey. I am blessed, and I can’t see the future, but I’ll be fine.

Writer Things

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Hello lovelies πŸ™‚

I’ll be spending today editing my new poetry book. It’s going to be called Winter Lights ❀ I’ve realized that I want to get more serious in turning writing into my full time job, and for me, that starts with getting more serious about my book sales. My dream is to be a full time writer and to work for myself. I want to make my own opportunities, not just wait for someone to give them to me or hire me. More than that, I just want to have freedom in my career, to connect with others, and to make my mark on the world.

If you would like to support me, check out my books.

Thanks for your support ❀ Have a great day!

Happy MLK Jr. Day

Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day πŸ’— Always nice to remember leaders in this country who have made a genuine difference in people’s lives. I’ll always admire the way he used peaceful protest to fight for racial equality and social justice. He would be 88 years old today if his life hadn’t been cut short. I’m forever grateful for the legacy he left behind. The time around his birthday became a holiday in the 1980s, but wasn’t observed by all 50 states until the year 2000. I’m glad he remains an important and visible part of our history πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” -MLK Jr.

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Things I’ve Accomplished In My Twenties (so far)

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To speak like an elementary school kid, I am 24 and a half. It’s easy to look back on this decade in my life and feel like I’ve gotten literally NOTHING done. I’m “between” jobs, I’m single, don’t have my own apartment, and I don’t drive. It’s easy to feel like I’m not getting anything I want done, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t accomplished anything in the last four and half years, right? Of course not! Here are ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far):

I Graduated From College: This is probably the first big thing that comes to mind. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in English just a few days before my 22nd birthday. I completed it in four years, which not everyone does, so I guess that’s pretty awesome?? I graduated with honors, cum laude, and all that fancy stuff. And I made friends I still chat with today!

I Made Friends: Ya know, I spent a huge, and I mean huge chunk of my life believing that I was bad at making friends. Starting in elementary school I had bullies, in fifth grade I moved to a different school district (you know what THAT does for a kid’s social life), and it wasn’t until middle school that I started having “best friends.” In high school I had a few best friends, and then in college I had even more.

I have one or two friends I’ve kept in touch with from high school. And about four or five I still keep in touch with from college, so you can see how things improved! And it only took like a quarter of a century! Seriously, I hadn’t thought about making friends as an accomplishment until this moment, but it is one, isn’t it? You’re lucky if you can find good, kind friends. But it’s also something that requires effort and good habits to keep in touch.

I Embraced My Sexuality: This is a multi-faceted, complex one, the main part being that I embraced being bi/pansexual with a preference for women. I still have some anxiety here and there, but ultimately I feel really good about who I am, and I couldn’t be prouder to be queer. Learning and connecting more with the LGBTQ community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

But there’s more to sexuality than my orientation, so it’s kind of like I’m working on phase two of my sexuality confidence. For me, this means learning to feel more comfortable in my body, and feeling sexy, beautiful and confident by own standards, not by society’s. It means conforming sometimes to my culture’s standard of beauty for women (i.e- shaving my legs), while also needing to love my body for everything it is in its natural state.

This is a big thing to work on, and honestly, it’s a no wonder it feels so daunting. The U.S has to be one of the most sex negative countries in the world. Especially if you’re a women, it can be hard to unlearn all of the toxic things we internalize. Like needing to be “pure,” waiting until marriage, slut shaming, etc.

Sooo this is a work in progress for me. Maybe I need to watch more French films. The French are cool with sex, right?

I Wrote Things: One thing I’ve definitely focused on since I graduated from college is writing. I self published six poetry books and a book of short stories, and gave a book to one of my favorite bands. I wrote articles for a magazine in Manhattan, did freelance work for a marketing agency (short-lived and under paid, but it still happened!), I started (and maintained) this blog, submitted poems, articles, and stories while facing rejection, persevering with my work like a BOSS, and I worked on bunch of other projects that only my eyes have seen.

I’ve also seen how my words have been able to move, comfort, and inspire people, whether it’s in my poetry books, or something I post on the internet. It’s confirmed that words have power, and that this is one of my gifts in this life. I’ve learned that it’s hard, I meanΒ really hard to make money as a writer, but I’ve also learned how satisfying it is for me to take a DIY approach to this craft, and other artsy things as well. It’s a huge part of my life, and it’s one of the best things to come out of my twenties.

I Went To Vegas: It was rad. First time on the West Coast ❀

I Voted For A Woman For President: Okay, we all know how this one turned out. But still, I got to vote for a woman! How cool is that?!

I Applied To Grad School: Applying to grad school is something I considered doing for a long time. I thought about applying for something related to my current degree, like English or creative writing, but it didn’t create more job opportunities like I wanted, and needed. Eventually I decided to apply for a master’s degree in social work, and if I get accepted, I’ll be starting school next fall. Fingers crossed!

I Went To Concerts: I’ve gotten to see a few awesome artists in concert. Demi Lovato (got a photo with her, too! Thanks to my cousin), Miley Cyrus, Tegan and Sara, Kesha, DNCE, Kristen Chenoweth, Christina Perri, Kiesza, and Little Mix. Here’s to many more!

I Learned How To Navigate The NYC Subway: For reasons I can’t explain, I had this weird thing where I associated being an adult with being able to navigate the NYC subway system. I guess I felt like, if I can learn my way around Manhattan, I can learn my way around anywhere. Hit me up if you need directions to the Financial District.

I Celebrated Samhain: I didn’t do much, just made some art and had my own little dinner. I’ve been learning more about witchcraft, paganism, and other forms of spirituality. I’ve been meditating with crystals, and following different thought leaders like Mastin Kipp, Gabby Bernstein, Oprah, Tony Robbins, and the Dalai Lama.

This is a super important path for me, because I’m pursuing my spirituality on my own terms without worrying about anyone else’s dogma or approval. I’m finding my own path, and I’d say that’s important for any twenty-something.

So there it is, ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far). I’m four and half years into this decade, and I truly hope more good things are to come. I may not have everything I want, but I’m on my own journey and moving forward at my own pace. Your accomplishments are treasures. I hope you collect many on your own travels.

❀

-Ashley