When I was in kindergarten, the teachers asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. At the time, I had no idea. A year later, I decided that I wanted to be a rock star. In middle school when they asked again with a bit more seriousness, I had no idea again. I knew that I was too shy and not talented enough to become a rock star. I was one of the worst singers in my choir class and I was more interested in playing the piano than any kind of rock instrument, but I didn’t actually learn how to play the piano until a couple of semesters into college. In high school, I was completely lost. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted. I wasn’t interested in any subjects except for English and Math and that was because they were the only ones that I was good at, which surprised me later in life because starting out they were my worst subjects. It wasn’t until I was helping my friend in our trig class during my junior year of high school that she said to me, “you know, you would be a really good teacher.”
Those words got my mind thinking. Perhaps I wasn’t particularly interested in learning about English or Math, but because I was good at them and I understood them, I probably could teach one or the other subject. I chose to go to college and get my Bachelors and Masters in English. On the college level, they again asked me what I wanted. Did I want to do creative writing, journalism, technical writing, education? For a while, I debated between majoring in educational English or creative writing because I was much more interested in writing creatively than writing educationally and I could always take the tests to get my credentials for teaching later. Then I remembered that if I was going to make a career out of teaching, then I might as well take the classes needed to excel in it and take a few creative writing classes on the side.
English Education has been my path for the last 5 years. I’m in my 6th year of studying, close to finishing my first year of working in a pretty crappy cafe that serves pretty crappy and overrated coffee drinks in a negative learning environment that promotes fear over growth. There have been a few things during the last three or four weeks that have been pushing the alignment of last night’s moment. The way that my work is, my enjoyment of a good caffeinated beverage, the authenticity and honesty of what an Americano truly is versus what we have been making (and yes, there is a difference between pouring the shots on top of the water and pouring the water on top of the shots) at the shop, the fact that Eat Your Kimchi will be opening their own dream coffee shop in Korea, how I’ve been researching plane ticket prices that could get me to Korea sometime between December and January, my boyfriend’s newfound closeness to me and the fact that he’d like to move up north for a bit, and the close friends that I’ve made while working at the shop that will bring upon a road trip to the north have all got my head spinning with inspired ideas. I know it all seems like disconnected gibberish, but I have a new goal. I would still very much love to pursue my career as an English teacher, but the idea of opening my own coffee shop is the thing that’s been putting a smile on my face the most.
I know that it will be difficult and it might not happen for a few years, and even then I’ll have student debts to pay and I could lose everything just to take the risk at it. But I’ve realized that this is kind of what I want. I haven’t had very many passions in my life, but of the passions I do have, I can make a career out of two or three of them. In my life, all at some point, I would really love to become an English teacher, own a coffee shop of my own, and become a book editor. I’m sure that each of those career paths will be extremely difficult and take up a lot of my money, time, and sanity. This is what I want though. I’ve always loved editing people’s work and collaborating with people. I’ve never been too good with money since I normally hoard it all to myself, so I’d absolutely need some help in the expenses part of building a coffee shop, but I’ve got some friends that can help me out with that. And my path as an English teacher began long ago and it’s a path I intend to see through to the end. Just thinking about what the future holds or what I could make of it has my heart beaming with silver joy. I haven’t been this happy in a long time.
I should also add that a big part of this inward transformation is due to my reading of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. I’m only on the second chapter and I’ve always considered myself to be a feminist. I can see how, in some ways, people could consider her to be unfeminist because she is pushing the idea of women standing up to a man’s level rather than telling men to stand up to a woman’s level, but the book is mostly directed towards women in a man’s world. The statistics she states are things that I have seen and felt not just in the work place but in life as well. Her book works for me. I agree with a lot of what she has to say. It’s not every woman’s path, but it is some women’s path. I agree with what she has to say, and knowing that there is someone out there who isn’t afraid to be her full self with the world and encourage other women and men out there to be their full selves is something that has really inspired me.
I never considered myself to be ambitious because I had always only wanted to survive. Growing up, I was taught not to ask for more than what I got and to be grateful with what I already had. I still try to live by that today, but I am no longer punishing myself for obtaining things that I desire. In the working world, I am still very shy and uncertain when it comes to asking what I want because I don’t want to seem picky or bossy or demanding. But what if I’m not any of those things? I’ve never thought about being my own boss until I envisioned what my own coffee shop would look like. I’ll write more of it’s image in a later post, but for now I’m proud of myself for letting myself dream for once, for not being afraid to dream, and for making a start at creating the new design for my life. Thank you, Sheryl Sandberg, for helping to brush away the clouds of fear and doubt, even if just for a moment so that I could catch a glimpse of what I truly want in life and in my career.