I wanted to be a Marine.
When the military recruiters came to my high school my senior year, I talked to the Marine extensively. I saw the Corps as a family that was always there and never left you behind. They were tough and tenacious, strong and secure, all things I desperately wanted to be. But I had asthma, I had scoliosis, I had torn cartilage in my knees. So I couldn’t be a Marine.
I wanted to be an economist.
When I was around eight or nine years old, my Daddy Gob gave me a college level economics textbook. I loved it. I devoured it. I could tell you about supply and demand, scarcity and efficiency, micro, macro, and supply side economics. I loved the JA class that was taught during American History in middle school. Economists’ worlds made sense; the numbers always added up. But then came my high school economics class. It was taught by a man who I’m sure meant well; unfortunately, he did not do well. He killed my love of economics. Killed it dead. So I couldn’t be an economist.
I wanted to be President of the United States.
I had no real idea of what the President actually did. But he was important and powerful, and I wanted to feel important and to feel powerful. People looked up to him as a role model. He got to meet scintillating people and go to fascinating places. Then came social studies and history classes, and I learned about all the responsibilities and pressures Presidents had to deal with. I decided that the power of choosing who lives and dies was not one I wanted. So I couldn’t be President of the United States.
I wanted to be a professional musician.
My childhood vision was somewhere between Jem and the Holograms and Julie Andrews. I wanted to sing and play the piano, and as I grew older and learned more instruments, I wanted to be paid to play them as well. The last time I sat down and counted, I can play 47 musical instruments. Not all equally well, of course. I’m nowhere near as good on the accordion as I am on the sousaphone. My trumpet playing is eclipsed by my clarinet prowess. I do ok on bowed psaltery, but far better on oboe. My best instrument is the concert flute, with piccolo and alto flute close behind. But it’s my first instrument that let me reach this youthful dream; I was paid $50 each time I played the piano for one of the services at the church I attended. I am a professional musician.
I wanted to be a counselor.
I enjoyed learning about people and always seemed able to give good advice. (In hindsight, I probably should have taken some of my own advice…) I thought the human mind was the most alluring thing on earth. Out of this three pound lump of gray matter could come Ode to Joy or Auschwitz; The Tell-Tale Heart or Helter Skelter; the polio vaccine or ISIS. I wanted to understand it. And I wanted to help others understand their own psyches. I wanted to help people live better lives. My vision was working in an office of some sort. I volunteer on a peer counseling website, 7 Cups of Tea, where I’ve had conversations with people all over the world, basically acting as a sounding board to help them work out the issues they’re having. I am a counselor.
I wanted to make a difference.
I have moved people to tears with my singing. I insisted a friend who wasn’t feeling well see a doctor; the chemotherapy her doctors started the next day extended her life by a few months. I was such an inspiration to some of the top women in Mary Kay China that they wanted to have their pictures taken with me. All I did was go to a company event in a wheelchair. I sat across my kitchen table from a woman who, after a pampering session with me, told me she felt pretty for the first time in her life. She was in her 40’s. I have two children who take after me. I have made a difference.