I always like to ask kids what they wanna be when they grow up. They are so freaking specific!
- I wanna be a doctor.
- I wanna be a firefighter.
- I wanna be veterinarian.
Then I follow it up with, “Why?”
- I wanna help people feel better.
- I wanna save people from burning buildings and I like fire.
- I like animals, I wanna play with animals.
Me? Since I only have my story to tell, let me get specific:
I wanted to be a genetics engineer because I wanted to have an albino zoo. True story. Then I read about cloning sheep and it freaked me out. I didn’t want to play God with animals. That’s the kind of stuff I would read about. That’s the way I thought when I was a nerdy little kid… in elementary school. I had a subscription to Zoo Life magazine and I’d tear out pictures and hang them on my wall.
In junior high, I won awards in choir competitions and theatre arts tournaments. I wanted to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live.
In high school, I got into rap and hip hop music – from Dr. Dre’s The Chronic Album to Wu-Tang Clan’s 36th Chambers Album to Houston’s own Geto Boys Uncut Dope. I was a Golden Era hip hop kid, so much so I picked up the pen and the mic and started rappin’. I was a rapper and shit.
I was also in Honors classes and Advanced Placement English. I would nerd out and write stories and poems for the school’s literary magazine. But I was a rapper and shit.
When it came down to time to pick a major for college, I was in deep debate between English and some business major. I just picked something… business.
After a couple of semesters of Honors English course and writing about other people wrote and listening to what other people thought about what the author was thinking when he wrote it… I knew I had made the right choice.
Writing is so liberating. I didn’t like the formality of those English courses. I figured if I wanted to write, I could just write – freely. Knowing business would help me sell and market my books and my albums. Remember I was a rapper and shit? I was a rapper and shit from 16 to 26 years old!
I ended up getting into the Entrepreneurship Program which happened to be #2 ranked in the nation. My business plan was a one-stop-shop: recording studio, cd duplicator and print shop.
You see as a rapper and shit, I learned how to use a bootleg copy of Photoshop to design our group’s album covers, logos, t-shirts and flyers. With those new skills, I then became a freelance graphic designer while working at Starbucks in college and pursuing my rapper career.
I wanted to do all that for other artists at my studio/print shop. The problem I didn’t foresee was that artists are broke. Shit, WE didn’t have money, that’s why we had to figure out how to do all that stuff ourselves to begin with.
Half way though college, I didn’t want to be a rapper anymore. Plus Puff Daddy was blowing up around that time and I didn’t want to have nothing to do with that type of hip hop. I didn’t really like hip hop anymore.
A random spring break trip to Panama City Beach inspires me to open up a moped shop. Now, that became my new business plan.
3 days after graduating and officially becoming a “grown-up”, I’m on the road to Block Island, Rhode Island to work at a moped shop to learn the business model. A moped accident spooks me and I rethink my life and reconsider my business plan again.
I move back to Houston and get my barista job back. I start to freelance graphic design again. I started writing and rapping again. I was a rapper and shit again.
I then quit Starbucks to be a rapper and shit again. I was gonna make money with graphic design and fund my album. I fund and drop my album. I am broke.
I “man-up” and get a real job with a start-up. It’s in the beauty industry, an eyelash extensions company.
Man, those 10 years were a whirlwind. I learned so much about startups and operations, I travelled all over with the company, I managed people and million dollar product development projects. And I was no longer broke!
But even that great gig got old. What was wrong with me?
As the business grew it became more routine, and I grew more wrestless and bothered. I didn’t want to wake up and do the same thing everyday. As much as I had learned and all the autonomy I had, it just wasn’t my life long dream, like some little girl somewhere to grow up and become a director of a booming beauty company.
I just eventually, physically left – but not quite entirely. These last two years while I’ve been figuring my shit out, I was fortunate enough to maintain a contactor position with them. It has saved my ass more than a few times.
In these last two years, I have spent a considerable amount of time, most of it agonizing over, what I want to be when I grow up. Those 10 years on salary, I didn’t have to worry about it because by all standard criteria I WAS a grown up. I had purchased my own home in the burbs, a stable (some may even say sexy) gig, and I had my truck and motorcycle.
Now, as a contractor and business owner – I am back to having the luxury of time to contemplate THE question again, so I read books, lived my life and I have finally found my answer!
But before I share it, I want to share the process.
I looked back at all the things I wanted to be and then I followed it up with, “Why?”
This time around I had the advantage of perspective and time and I suppose… wisdom.
I wanted to be a genetics engineer because I like the science behind animals. I wanted to be outdoors with them. That’s why I like fishing.
I wanted to be on SNL because I like connecting with people and making them laugh. That’s why I like to add humor, and some character to my videos and blogs posts.
I wanted to be a rapper because I like connecting with people, entertaining and telling stories. I wanted to travel and tour. That’s why I tell stories in my videos and use hip hop beats. That’s why I travel, fish and film so much.
I wanted to have a moped shop because I wanted to have the autonomy of having my own business and live near the water. That’s why I’m always fishing and always have a side hustle going.
Today, I know the answer and it’s not so career specific anymore… I have learned to dream “wider”.
THE WISH LIST
When I grow up…
Generally, I wanna have autonomy over my time, DO something I’m good at, and DO something I enjoy.
Specifically, I want to travel and be outdoors (preferably near salt water).
Conceptually, I want work when I’m inspired and go get inspired when I’m not.
Internally, I want to help and connect with people.
While that wish list is pretty detailed, it’s no longer career specific and definitely not about the money.
Again, what I did was take those specific careers I wanted in the past and pull out what those careers actually allow me to DO.
I want to spent just enough time to make the money necessary, to DO things I enjoy AND have the time to actually DO them.
What’s the point of having the money to DO the things you want, when you don’t have the TIME to DO them, because you’re so busy using your TIME to make money?
That’s the balance. That’s the hard part.
As of right now, I don’t have a specific career in mind and I’m completely and finally fine with that. I just literally work hard on “stuff” and pursue “things” that could potentially meet MOST of my wish list.
Through this process, I have discovered that I am actually living the dream that I have been chasing. I have hit my wish list, I have found my balance.
I’m not so hard on myself anymore about knowing my specific career. I have found some peace in this whirlwind grind. I am more open to what lies ahead… in fact, I embrace it.
Now… I just waiting on that money to catch up. LOL.