I ran across this email while clearing out my email folders. Someone I met on the sparkpeople message boards asked me to answer these questions for some college class project she was doing. I enjoyed re-reading my answers, and I don't think they'd be much different today if I filled this out. I thought others might enjoy reading them, too. (I added the parts in brackets today before posting this.)
Sunday, June 15, 2008 5:42 PM
1. At what point did you decide what you would do with your life?
I'm not sure that I have decided! I have had two careers so far: first as a hospital nurse, now as a lawyer. Being a nurse was fulfilling in the sense that I provided an invaluable service to people, but I didn't feel it was a good fit for me. I really love working as a lawyer, but being a lawyer has made it more difficult for me to achieve balance between my personal and my working lives.I'm not sure that I'll continue doing what I do now until I retire. And I think that's OK.
2. Did a pivotal sign tell you that you were on the right track?
3. Did you have to make any sacrifice to pursue what you do?
To go to law school, I had to incur an additional $60,000+ in student loans above what I was already paying for undergrad, plus take three years out of the workforce.
4. Are there important things that you haven't done yet?
Yes! The primary one that I think about all the time is being a mother. There are also hobbies I'd like to pursue and places I'd like to visit. I hope I will live long enough to do these things!
5. What do you wish you had known as a young woman that would have further advanced your life by this point?
That it's OK to be unsure about where I'm headed and to be open to advice and inspiration from unexpected sources.
6. What was your favorite part of your twenties? What was your least favorite part?
My favorite part of my 20s was finally being an adult and getting to know myself, my strengths and my weaknesses.My least favorite part was that I was solely responsible for my choices and their consequences. (Though this could also be viewed as a positive, depending on one's perspective.)
7. Do you believe that you are following your destiny, or that you have found your life's purpose?
I don't know. I do know that my current career "plays to my strengths" much more than my previous career, and I enjoy it. I wouldn't say I'm passionate about it, though, in the way I think one would be if it was her "life's purpose."
8. Of the painful happenings in your life, which would you wish to keep?
Strange to say, but all of them. Overcoming those obstacles has helped to make me into the person I am today.
9. Why do you think there is so much fear and jealousy in the world?
I think part of fear and jealousy comes from a lack of self-confidence or self-love. If you believe in yourself and know that you are worthy, you will have no reason to doubt or to envy because you will know that the Universe will send you good things in Its own time.
10. Do you listen more to your heart than to your head?
I listen more to my head.
11. Do you trust others easily?
I'm middle-of-the-road on this. I will say that the more I've known people, the more skeptical I've become. I was more trusting at 20 than I am now.
12. How important was money in your career choice?
When I chose nursing, money was only important to the extent that I thought it would be more likely than not that I wouldn't have to face long periods of unemployment as a nurse; I knew it wasn't a lucrative field.
When I chose the law, money was a bit more of a consideration. . . . mostly because I had to borrow a fairly significant sum to pursue a second career and wanted it to be financially worthwhile.
13. What annoys you most?
People who are stupid or just don't get it. . . . who make no effort to learn or improve.
14. What are some of the things that you wish someone would have told you as a young woman?
Never settle. It's OK to have high standards, but realize that not everyone who comes into your life will be able to meet them.
Know yourself. Until you truly know yourself, no one else can really get to know you.
Enjoy the journey. It sounds cheesy, but most of the best things that have happened to me in my life were a result of serendipity or of things not going the way I had planned.
Don't worry too much about what other people think. Ultimately, you are the one you will have to face every day in the mirror, so care more about what YOU think.
[Truth be told, I probably wouldn't have listened to anyone who had told me these things when I was younger.]
15. How important do you think it is for people to have mentors? Who were yours?
I think how important a mentor is depends upon the individual person. I don't think I've ever really had a mentor, and I seem to have done OK for myself.
16. Do you feel you have a fulfilled personal life? Do you consider your career to be part of your personal life?
Aside from the fact that I am not a mother, I think my personal life is pretty fulfilled. I have many good, close friends; my parents are still living, and I have a good relationship with each of them; I am close to my sister and have an adorable 19-month-old [now 3-year-old] nephew; and I have a wonderful boyfriend [now husband] with whom I am building a future. Also, I have a wonderful dog [two wonderful dogs now] who enriches my life every day just be being himself.
I also get a sense of fulfillment from volunteering. I have volunteered as an advocate for children in foster care since 2002. If work allowed me more time to do so, I would also want to volunteer with my dog as a therapy team. (I've gone so far as to seek out an organization and training for this, but haven't found the time to actually get involved.)
I do NOT consider my career to part of my personal life. I rarely socialize with anyone from work outside work hours, although several of my friends are lawyers by virtue of the fact that I met them in law school.
17. If you could instantly have one talent, what would it be?
I would like to be able to read people well.
18. How much attention do you pay the rest of the world?
Probably slightly more than the average American, based on what I've read, but not a lot. I tend to stay pretty focused on what is going on in my own life and my own community vs. the world at large.
19. What lessons do you think you still have to learn?
Lots. There are still many things about myself that I want to improve. I'd like to be more organized, healthier (through better eating & exercise), and less critical of others.
20. What is your favorite mode of communication and why?
Talking because it comes easily to me and I can usually make myself best understood in that way. I find that the written word sometimes has the potential for misunderstandings. I consider myself to be a good writer, but when you talk to someone, you can observe their reactions and body language and tell whether you are communicating effectively.
P.S. When I was in my 20s, friends who were slightly older used to tell me that the 30s were the "best decade yet." To be honest, I thought they were full of crap, but now that I am 37, I believe it's true. I spent so much of my 20s trying to be what I thought other people wanted me to be (my parents, my boyfriends, my friends & peers) and feeling uncertain about the path I should be taking.Now that I am 37 , I realize that I am far from perfect, but I know myself--the good and the bad--and because of this self-knowledge, I am able to try to be the best ME I can and to fully engage with other people.
In my 30s, I also care a lot less about what most people think of me. I do what I think is right, and I value the opinions of a handful of close friends and family members. The rest of the world's opinions don't matter much to me.