The toughest question people have asked me, that will shut me up or make me stumble is when they look me square in the eye and ask me, “What do you want?”
To me, it seems like such a huge, massive question. I mean, maybe I’m not used to people asking me that, and now folks are asking me this all the time.
I’m being asked this when it comes to my career, what I want to do after grad school and in my love life and I often find myself completely thrown off guard and tongue-tied.
The craziest part about that is, I used to know. I was a person who knew early on what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.
When I was a little girl, I had no problem telling people I wanted to be the “first black woman president of the United States.”
I found out that when I’d be old enough to go to college, in order to be president, I’d of course have to study political science. So boom, I had a major set up by the third grade.
Things changed. In 8th grade I was working on the school newspaper and fell in love. I was going to be a journalist. And that’s what I had set out to do, and I went to college for it, I had my internships with magazines and newspapers and boom, I was working as a journalist. I’ve covered a lot of very cool things and met amazing people. And when people would ask me about my future, it was get to the big newspapers and eventually become a beloved columnist, writing until the day I died.
Well, the industry changed.
And that change, changed what I wanted and changed what was going to make me happy. Mainstream journalism wasn’t making me happy, not living in DC anymore wasn’t making me happy.
So I got another job, and I moved back. I knew I loved health and medical reporting so great, I got a gig doing that, I also loved learning about websites and incorporating technology to tell stories in creative ways, so I worked my way up, until I got bored. I told folks what I wanted, a new title and to lead the junior editors and I needed more money. And those things happened, but once I taught the junior editors all I could, I wondered what else was there for me to learn. So I went into government consulting.
What I wanted changed again. What once made me happy, got old.
So I decided to go to grad school to work on my Masters in Public Health.
I love how the random pieces of my life really do set the tone for the things I eventually realize I want, but there are these moments where I truly don’t know. Where I need to explore.
I’m supposed to meet with someone a friend recommended I speak with, but I’m really afraid of that person asking me the inevitable and not having what I think is a “good” answer.
This same friend asked me if I’d ever be interested in launching my own business. I had told her that I love being creative and if I did, I’d need a business manager who would gladly take care of the details that I hate when it comes to running a business.
I admire business owners, I love their guts and their confidence and their ability to win people over, and in turn, give other people opportunities. It’s so cool to me, but sometimes, I wonder if I have enough in me to pull it off. I get very impatient. Sometimes, I have to just quit temporarily because I get overwhelmed. I’m a worry wort. I appreciate stability. I have a serious fear problem.
And these same fears carry over into my love life. Right now, there’s nothing going on. Nothing. No signs of life. And if a really great man looked me in the eyes and asked me what do I want, well, I might do a better job of listing what it is that I need and want than career wise.
I’ve been so used to knowing, then mapping out a plan to get there. That’s another reason why grad school has been so fulfilling. I knew I wanted my MPH, but two years would be enough time to figure out how to Frankenstein together my perfect career that still allowed me to bring my experience and skills as a reporter, writer and editor, while also giving a nod to this growing techy side as a content consultant. I’m certain that I want to work in health communications, but the questions my friends raise about me stepping out on my own has me wondering.
I have a combination of unique skills. How do I build a business out of that? I know great people over the years who I’d love to work with and who I’d love to give opportunities to and just let them do their thing, but how would I make that happen? But I wouldn’t want to drag people into something and let them down.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m lying to myself and deep down I do know what I want.
I’m just terrified of it.