At 22, I sat in a CPA review class six months after graduating college wondering how the hell the last four years swam by without me doing what I wanted to do. Part of the problem was I had no idea what I wanted to do. At 47, I sit at my part-time accounting job, still wondering how to go about doing what I want to do.
In college, I had no time to concentrate on the future; I just wanted my cowlick to fall the right way. I spent a great deal of time waiting for someone to invent the hair straightener and JBrand Jeans (life changing) leaving little time for career ambitions and dreams. My mother, having recently completed her Associate’s Degree in Accounting, didn’t want me venturing off to college undeclared so she checked off the accounting box and I landed in the Business School. I shuffled along in accounting, doing okay, but not great.
Upon getting a “good” job in the accounting field, I poured over three foot long yellow column paper ticking and tying numbers with red pencils. BORING. Everyone in the accounting firm, from the wealthy, untouchable partners to the lowly Seniors working sixty plus hours a week, said the phrase “substance over form” to the lowly Assistants (me) approximately five hundred times a day. As I was busy doing exactly the opposite in work and in my life, I didn’t understand the phrase but I longed for something more for the first time in my life.
A friend’s nickname for her husband is Mr. 75%; he toils around DIY projects until they are 75% complete and moves onto the next item on the honey-do list. I listened to my girlfriend’s complaining about Mr. 75% and thought, hmmm – am I Mrs. 75%? Not too competitive or ambitious, I did just enough to get by. After passing the CPA exam, more embarrassed than proud, I enrolled in a graduate program and obtained my Masters in Education. After graduating, I decided if I didn’t have my Special Education Certification and the trend was mainstreaming, I wouldn’t get hired. After staying home and raising three children, I discovered I could obtain a High school Accounting/Business Certification and combine my two degrees. I did not realize breaking into a Public High School is harder than becoming President of the United States. My degrees and certifications pile up unused in a drawer in my kitchen as I accept my fate with debits and credits.
And then I discovered writing. Up until starting this blog, I associated my lack of publication with my 75% shortcomings. Having the passion to write and pursue a teaching career make suffering through the accounting job a bit easier but not less boring.
In recent years, my accounting degree became my savior. Those pieces of paper, my college diploma and CPA certificate, which felt like albatrosses became life preservers. Thank you Mom for checking off the accounting box.
More and more women are finding meaning in their forties and beyond. They have obtained confidence in their form allowing them to concentrate on substance. It’s more encouraging to chase a dream now that I actually have a dream. I hope the accountant inside me, the one that likes to follow rules and keep everything perfectly balanced, allows me to explore a creative avenue. I think I’ll go out and buy a new pair of JBrand Jeans (hopefully on sale) so I have something nice to wear when I get to wherever it is I am going.
If you’re on a path somewhere different or exciting – where do you hope it will take you?