Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Are We What We Hoped We Would Become?

Goals, dreams, aspirations. Now that we are on the downside of life (it’s rather shocking to think that, especially to type it, but it’s true when we consider we don’t have as many years before us as we have behind us), it’s inevitable that we start to think on our achievements, however great or small.

That leads to the question of this: When I was young, what did I want “to be?” Most young children are asked that question and typical responses may be “a teacher, fireman, movie star, astronaut.” I don’t remember at all what I said when asked that question.

I recall that when in high school I wanted to become a librarian because I took classes in library science and fell in love with the rows and rows of books, the Dewey Decimal System and the card files (remember those?) I did not attend college directly after high school; it would be several years later before I got around to that. Instead, I wanted to get a well-paid job at a nearby military installation where everyone in the area was working. And so I did.
Movie poster for the 1976 movie, All the President's Men, based on the 1974 book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, two journalists for The Washington Post. Their investigation revealed details of the 1972 break in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., and the culpability of President Richard M. Nixon's in the crime. Woodward and Bernstein's reporting of facts ultimately led to the resignation of the president. 

I took a degree in journalism in college and aspired to be an investigative reporter for a big-time newspaper (this was during the Watergate era and I wanted to be another Bob Woodward/Carl Bernstein, uncovering and revealing the secrets of corrupt politicians). Instead I worked for two small newspapers, one daily and one weekly. I did a bit of PR and volunteer work but mostly settled into a comfortable and entertaining life in the big city.

It would be another 10 years before I settled into the profession I worked at for 20 years – that of a public affairs officer for a government agency. Yes, I was able to write, but it was a long way from being the reporter I once wanted to be.

But somewhere along the way I realized I no longer wanted what I thought I did. There was a period I was so burned out and disillusioned with the journalism field that I wouldn't even read a newspaper 

So we change; we grow; we move on. But the question remains, or perhaps it becomes “are we now happy with who we are, what we have accomplished?”

I try to answer that question by testing my level of contentment and happiness now. I realize the two questions are not the same, but still, I think they are closely related.

The answer to the happiness/contentment question is a resounding yes. I have not set the world on fire but I know I have contributed to the happiness and well being of others; I have tried to live a good life; I have followed the Golden Rule. I love my family and animals and care for those who are less fortunate than myself and I want to do good for them.

But to the original question, which has to do with career and "success" in life, I would have to say I probably have not lived up to my highest potential. I did not reach the high level of success that some have. But I made choices along the way that led me down a different path.

And you know what? It doesn't really matter after all. And still, I have dreams and goals yet to be achieved and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Yikes, now that I read this I hope you don't think the subject morbid or depressing!

Do you ever think along these lines and wonder what changes you would make if you could “relive” your life? I'd like your views on the subject.

I hope we can get an ongoing dialogue about this. 


  1. Not gloomy Sanda, just a very thoughtful post on a topic which has been on my mind this year. Facing cancer surgery, I found I reviewed my life, was happy with many achievements (though not career related) and that I still have a thirst for adventure and new experiences. Very happy with where I am but would be sad if it all ended sooner rather than later (understatment of the year!) Watching elderley parents deteriorate brings on these thoughts also.
    Thank you for a nice post.

    1. You are so right, Patricia. Watching an elderly parent deteriorate makes one think of one's own mortality more. I am glad you can identify with some of the thoughts I presented in the post.

  2. What an great post, lots of new information about your very interesting life. I can't be anything but satisfied with my life. I was born to be a mother and it took all I had to do that right. On occasion, people ask how I could make taking care of children my priority, if it was a waste of my brain (which impresses others more than it does me), and I can tell them that a 13 year old child is more intellectually challenging than any PhD seminar I ever took. Their health, education, safety, and all other aspects of child rearing are all consuming. It makes corporate jobs look like a walk in the park. Now that they are grown, I have time for so many new places and things - it just gets better and better.

    1. I agree with you that child rearing is an all-important career in life. My life experience with children was with my husband's two, who were 8 and 11 when we married. They lived with us so I helped raise them. The challenges were many, esp. for someone with no prior experience! I think you must have done an excellent job, but didn't you also have a career as an accountant? perhaps that was after they left home for college.

  3. I wanted to have a child asap and get married. And I did. I wished to experience things I myself had lacked by taking care of a child. Naturally I became aware of this very much later.
    I have never set high goals for myself, I have jumped over the fence, where it has been it´s lowest, having a total lack of self-esteem, of which I´m only now recovering from.
    Taking care of the home frontier, my husband has been able to work full-time on his chosen career.
    I don´t feel that I have sacrificed my career in favor of his. I have had free hands to do what I have wanted to do.
    Great post Sanda!!!

    1. I believe all of us have different goals and we should not compare one with another, or ourselves to anyone else. We all are different, and I think you had a worthy goal in life. And your life sounds like a very good one, with your husband and two beautiful daughters. And let's not forget the dogs and the horse!

    2. Well, as you probably know, I am a registered nurse ( psychiatry ), but have done the work only part time, due to my hb´s busy work.
      I have also done some freelance interior designing, so I guess I have covered my fields of interest in the working field ; ).

    3. Mette, no I didn't know you were a registered nurse. I do remember you mentioning interior design work, however. You seem to be extremely contented with your life and I don't think a person could ask for more. Thanks!

  4. Interesting topic. As a young girl I wanted to be a nurse. Instead I decided to work and then get married and have two daughters. When they started school I went to college to pursue a profession in health care. So many things divert our plans - births, deaths, circumstances that we can't control. I don't know that I would do anything differently. In some ways it feels like a sort of zig-zag path to get to where I am rather than a straight line. I am certainly content with my life these days tho.


    1. I believe it's the zig-zags that make life interesting. Things don't always turn out as we planned and perhaps that's a good thing.


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