Okay, so most of you won’t be surprised to know that what I really wanted to be when I grew up was Stevie Nix. Seriously, all I wanted was to sing in a band and be a rocker. Of course, my parents weren’t all that keen on the idea. And although I did sing off and on in both college and grad school, I never really pursued it as a serious career option.
My second biggest desire was to become a Broadway star. Not just act, mind you—become a star. I started my acting career Mummers Theatre in OKC when I was still in grade school. I was an Indian in Peter Pan. One line. But hey, it was a start. In high school I was known as “Dee Drama”. I participated in tournaments, readers theaters, plays—you name it.
And I always thought that I’d wind up somewhere on stage. I was also a writer. But mainly to assuage my adolescent angst. Still putting pen to paper was cathartic for me, if not a driving force in what I thought I wanted to be.
But life has a way of making sudden left turns and I left all of that behind when I went to college and started the serious study of political science. I started out as an English major (which of course means I hadn’t strayed very far from my acting roots), but when a friend died, I decided to honor her by majoring in the same thing she was going to major in—kind of weird thinking, I suppose, but there you have it—me the poli sci major.
It was in college that I first started doing the mock UN. And from there, I turned my interests toward international relations. Going so far as to make it my area of concentration in grad school. But by the end of graduate school, I’d realized that the CIA wasn’t nearly as interested in my working for them as I was. And that the foreign service appointments went first to people who had language skills other than “southern”.
So I took my newly acquired upper level degree and went to work for Lone Star Gas. Now in Texas oil and gas is king. And so this was sort of like jumping into the biggest political arena in the state. But no, my job was actually to go around to civic organizations and talk about the merits of natural gas.
I talked to the Lions and Kiwanis about “Makin’ Hole” (seriously). And garden clubs about “cooking with natural gas”. I even had a cooking kitchen complete with a mirrored ceiling for demonstrations.
I also did television commercials on a regional level and was offered a job on a local radio morning show. And even starred in a local production of the Seven Year Itch. (some things you just can’t leave behind).
But even though I’d sworn that I was going to rise to the position of president of Lone Star Gas, it just wasn’t in the cards. And as my interest flagged, I jumped ship. Finally, doing something with the Public Administration degree and became the director of theMcLennan County Medical Society.
Working for the medical society, I took on an even greater role in volunteering for the community. Working on many boards, including, the Cancer Society, the Tourism board, and my personal favorite, the Zoo board, the end result being a fabulous new zoo built along the river in Cameron Park.
I also chaired the Great American SmokeOut, taught continuing education classes, appeared on a local TV show, and produced public service announcements for the Medical Society.
And I’d probably still be living and working in Waco today, except that I met the love of my life, and at that time he lived in Austin. So off I went, a new adventure in the offing. Although I never found a job in Austin that compared to the one I’d had before.
I did make wonderful new friends and we had our daughter. The absolute best thing ever. But after returning from living in Vienna for three years, I found myself rudderless. What did I want to be when I grew up?
Rock Star seemed out of the question (there were definite spandex issues). And Broadway star seemed equally elusive – especially since I lived in Texas and was fast approaching forty. And then suddenly—from the echoes of my past, I remembered how much I loved to write.
Maybe, I thought, giving full rein to my creative side for the first time since high school, I could actually write a book. An insane notion to be certain, but you only live once—right?
Fast forward eleven years and here I sit with eighteen novels to my credit. And I feel like I’ve finally found my calling. Turns out that I’m a writer. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. After all, I’ve always been a story teller in one way or another. I just took the circuitous route to get here.
So how about you? What did you want to be when you grew up—or maybe more importantly—what DO you want to be when you grow up? I’m living proof that it’s never too late!