I am at that point in my career where I am being asked to speak to new college graduates or graduate students about leadership and career choices. As the CEO of a nonprofit, and with a couple of graduate degrees under my belt, I am suddenly the wise 'old sage’ who shares her experiences with emerging leadership. I look at my eight-year old and rationalize that I am still too young to be an old sage! At any rate, it is becoming glaringly apparent that what my mother said about age and wisdom may actually hold a little water and that it wasn’t simply a way for her to justify her opinions. As I confidently direct students to identify their passion, chase their dreams, and not let salaries dictate their career choices, I'm wondering why I didn't give myself the same advice at that age?
If I'd followed my own dreams I would be writing full time. Although I've had the pleasure of publishing a couple of books and even making my way into a few nonprofit journals, I haven’t begun to visit the writing Nirvana of my dreams. Indeed if I’d reached this pinnacle, I would currently be negotiating the contract for my eleventh novel and/or third screenplay! If I had really focused in on my passion, the nonprofit world would have had one less CEO. But, I didn't know what I didn't know did I? Coming from a family of writers, I thought it was natural for people to process what they saw into essays and short stories. Everyone knows how to write, right? Wrong. I soon found that some people loathe writing as much as I loathe math and no, everyone doesn’t think in essay form. To be able to express oneself as a writer is really a gift. It is one that I, for too long, took for granted.
Now here I am mid-career and I am having an out of body experience as I am listening to all the advice I am shoveling out. My brain is screaming, ‘Are you talking to me, are you talking to me!” Last week I heard myself imploring the students and young youth professionals in front of me to, "Listen to your hearts and your heads. Find a quiet place and think about what your life would look like if your vocation was something you actually loved. Find ways to expose yourself to this passion and pursue it." It appears this physician may need to heal herself.
So here I am blogging, writing short stories, creating poetry, and totally screwing up any semblance of a normal sleep pattern I may have had. I can't seem to spit out things fast enough. I am having a great time and I am not even attempting to pace myself. From now on when I speak to students I am going to tell them the truth about me. I was a closet writer for 20 years and I am sorry I waited so long to come out. I am going to tell them how grateful I am for my current nonprofit career and how I believe I have truly made a difference in my community. But I am going to admit to them that this is really a second choice for me. I am going to confess that if I could do it all over again, I would take my own advice and I would simply write.