When I was younger and people asked me what I wanted to be, my answers were always one of these three: Accountant, Economist, Financial Adviser. This was very weird to people because there is no known history of such professionals in my family. My Dad is a Medical Doctor and my Mom is a Professor of English language and literature. Where exactly did I get my ideas from? Most of my high school teachers were very disappointed and even angry when I chose to study Economics in College because they thought I was wasting my intelligence. Someone even said I was just being lazy. I did very well in core sciences, but I had no interest in pursuing them as my life’s work.
My parents, especially my Dad hoped that I would choose a different line of study, but they never pushed. It was so funny that my Dad would ask me at least 3 times every year, throughout Middle School and High School what I wanted to study in College, like I hadn’t told him already. He seemed to be waiting for the day I would say something different. One day I said I would study Petrochemical Engineering, and for the first time he had a lot to say about it, how it was great and would be lucrative. I was a bad kid: I shouldn’t have teased him like that. The next time he asked, I returned to my original answer. And of course there was no comment 😀
I ended up double majoring in Economics and Business, with a minor in International and Global Studies, and really I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I now work as a Human Resources (HR) professional which might strike you as odd, since I am supposed to be somewhere around money right?
Here’s the thing. I wanted to be an Accountant because I wanted to be very clear about the going outs and the coming ins of finances. I wanted to be an Economist because I wanted to understand the movement of resources, how they are allocated and how to determine the return on investment for every expenditure. I wanted to be a Financial Adviser because I was mystified by how people could have a decent income and still be broke. I was dumbfounded by how many people felt there was nothing they could do about their situations, when there was! I believe most people want to do well financially, and they would if they knew how. Were these weird concerns for a child? Maybe, but they were some of my concerns and still are. (Image: Parents)
Why am I in HR? Because I like to build people up. Being a HR Business Partner is such an opportunity to help managers develop management skills, help employees have a voice without fear of retaliation, help people build great relationships and open communication even where there has been pain and madness, and serve as a consultant for the Business on its People Strategy. You get to create the kind of environment people actually want to work in! Nothing is really disjointed about the path I am taking to where I am going. All of the knowledge I have is great for me, but I want to use it to build others as well. I am not yet a Business Partner, but I am on my way there.
How do all these interests come together? I hate poverty and what it does to people. And poverty is not a lack of money. It is a mindset and it can take over every area of your life: your thought processes, your language, your possibilities, your emotions, your relationships with people, the way you communicate… most people are a lot poorer than they think. I just hate all things poverty, and I can spend the rest of my life helping people get out of it. Resources and how they affect People. That’s my thing and I know it, so even if I am doing seemingly disconnected things, they are connected by my purpose and passion.
The other day, someone mentioned to me that she was so stressed. After digging deeper, she confessed that she was stressed out about money. I gave her a 10 minute pep-talk on how I manage my finances so that I am not stressed no matter how much or little I make, and she looked at me like I was Wonder Woman. I only gave her basic tips, but it was like the light bulbs came on for her and she kept saying ‘I had never thought of that,‘ ‘I should do that‘. It was a casual conversation, but it reminded of one of the reasons I love being me: Because I am answering my life’s questions, I can provide original and legitimate solutions to other people’s concerns. (Image: 123rf)
Why am I telling you all this? If you haven’t read between the lines yet, let me do a little of it for you:
1. Be yourself, pursue your own dreams and search for answers to the questions that plague you the most. You don’t need anyone’s approval or even their encouragement; it would be nice but it is not required. There is a reason you have the one set of internal questions and someone else has a different set. Answer your life questions and let others answer theirs. Chances are the answers you find will also benefit your sphere of influence greatly.
2. You can study Economics, Work in HR, get certified in Effective Communication, write a blog on life issues, run a business, learn a foreign language etc and it will still come together to take you where you really want to go, not where others have told you you may want to go. One of my least favorite words in the universe is ‘career‘ because it gives the idea that there is this specified road you must take to get to where you want to go in life. LIES. ALL LIES. My focus has been to build myself and build others. As long as I accomplish that, it can look haphazard to anyone out there but it is all one thing to me. What’s your goal?
3. You can always do something about your life. Whatever kind of lot you are ‘given’ in life, you can choose what to build on it. It may not be what you would LIKE to do, but it may be what you NEED to do to get the results you say you desire, so put your actions where your mouth is or stop talking.
4. Don’t get caught up in following the ‘track‘ everyone follows when they study the same major as you in college. Remember WHY you studied those things. I didn’t go to college so I could get a job and work for a company. I went to college because there were things I personally wanted to understand and college created a system for me to get a standard overview, and to practice a steady course of learning. Being a college graduate also gives me greater access to people and places where I can continue to engage in active and practical learning. I can work in different settings and gain greater understanding, which further answers my questions and creates some new ones for me to explore on the road to where I am going. You always have to come back to your WHYs; they are your compass.
I will let you interpret the rest of it, but I hope you got something from this reminiscence.
[Header Image: Meagan Baker Photography]