Friday, March 02, 2007

Building Blocks

Building Blocks

I like my life in neat blocks of time. I like for things to go like clockwork. It is my preference for my lists of things to do to be checked off--in order, thankewverrymuuuuch. I don't like changes in the schedule or "going with the flow." So, of course, God gave me this life that is a minute-by-minute surprise or panic. He put me in the middle of chaos and unpredictability and said, "Trust me." Ha. Well, I still struggle but He is endlessly patient. He can wait forever.

Watching my boys come to a place where they are making decisions about their futures has caused me to look back on my own life and see what kinds of building blocks of time I've stacked up. There are a few blocks I could've done without, I think. If I could go back, I might have picked up a "T" block instead of that "U" block, or I might have put the blocks in neat rows instead of circling them. God gives us these piles of blocks, and we can't use them all. We have to make choices and then do something with them.

One thing that would have helped me is if I could have found out my temperament sooner. Something about seeing the commonality in a temperament would have given me more confidence about how I felt about some choices. Some choices were made for me--I didn't have any money, and a certain college offered me full scholarship while ones I thought I wanted to attend didn't offer me much or were a lot more expensive. I had this thing about not wanting to go into major debt. As it were, the way I chose assured that I graduated free and clear. Not bad for the first person and generation college graduate on one side of my family, huh? God helped me along the way with offers of jobs right in my field of study. Doors opened and some closed, but I was blessed with opportunities in teaching when almost all of my fellow graduates ended up in another field due to lack of teaching jobs.

At one point in my teaching career I had enough. One of my students had been murdered. Others, beaten by parents, and administrators who didn't do their jobs made teaching not what I had signed up for. It was too much. I hung up my chalk and clipboard and said, "That's it. I didn't sign up for this stuff and I can't take this grief."

I contacted a school about a career in dentistry. I figured this would be a job where I could indulge my meticulous nature, work with people, but people wouldn't be dying on me. I could find ways to make a feared procedure comfortable and I'd be pleasant. Plus, I'd have great teeth.

I met with the admissions guy. He came to my apartment to talk it over with me. I don't know what I said, or what it was about me, but he told me I was exactly the kind of student they were looking for--motivated, smart with experience with people already under my belt, plus I already had a bachelor's degree. But....

There's always a "but" in your life, isn't there? He cautioned me not to make a hasty choice and change just because some bad things had happened. I assured him that I was ready for this change. I wanted to do something else. But...he discouraged me. He told me to not rush into this.

I wish I had pursued another avenue or pressed forward in this quest. My husband was in school, and we would've had to take out another loan for me, so that was strike one. I needed a job of some sort--strike two. My husband said years later that he should've pushed me to go ahead and get another degree, but he was busy and occupied at the time with his own studies.

So, I found another teaching job and it appeared to be the "perfect" place. Two years later another student was dead at the hands of his mother and that was the final straw for me--I left teaching for several years. The timing worked out as my husband had graduated, had a job that took care of the both of us, and we had our first of four boys. I took a maternity leave and didn't go back to teaching for 8 years. By the way--my first child was born on his due date--as it should be for someone like me. When I returned to teaching, it was in P.E. and that was my favorite job of all the jobs I had. Unfortunately, life's circumstances caused us to move and I didn't get to continue in that job. I flailed about for another 10 years until now after that.

But now they have tests to give you to help you make wise choices for you and your personality. I didn't discover this until a couple years ago. It won't save you from tough choices or grief-filled moments or frustrations, because no matter how "perfect" a job is for you, there will always be something that will grind your teeth. However, if you are in an environment that you "fit," it helps you to press onward and still have a love and enthusiasm, despite the hardships that just come with life. I'm too old to go back to the beginning, so I'll have to adjust according to my age, but at least I still have time as long as I'm still breathing in and out to find a few more things to do. I can now cut out the "I hate doing thats" and finally do some things I love.

If you are interested in finding out your Myers-Briggs profile, here is a link where you can take a free test. You can also pay a small fee for possible career matches or go to the Ball State University career site and see matches for your profile. They even list some possible majors that this particular university offers to give you an idea of what kind of career might suit you.

Even if you are my age, this is useful. It's helped me to assess where I have come from, and then, has helped me in deciding "what next?" for me. It has allowed me to understand certain people in my life so I can better respond to them. Plus, I am more able to help others find their path, which probably satisfies a part of me that wasn't quite fulfilled. It's all for the good.


Karen Wingate said...

I loved your reflections about jobs. It makes me think of the time I asked a family friend about his job as a CPA. This was back when I was attending college. He told me how busy it got during tax season. I sympathized, but then he said something I've quoted so many times, "But every job has its tax season." So true.

Crystal Laine said...

Wow, now that's an appropriate analogy for this time of year,Karen! I am going to quote your friend, too!