18 April 2019

Who Did You Expect To Be?

Have you started listening to Laura Tremaine's podcast yet, 10 Things to Tell You?  If you haven't you are really missing out.  The episodes are short, but so thought provoking.  Some of the topics are light (how do you read?) and others are a little deeper, like this week's prompt.

Who Did You Expect To Be
Wow, right?


Long time readers know, I grew up in Rhode Island.  Catholic school, large Italian family, the whole nine yards.  I have very fond memories of where I grew up.  When I was very young, I wanted to be a cheerleader or a flag twirler when I grew up.

I spent a lot of time with the local high school marching band when I was in preschool and the cheerleaders and flag twirlers loved having a doting preschooler mimic what they were doing.  I adored them and wanted to be like them when I grew up.

Around the time I was in kindergarten, I decided I wanted to be a secretary.  Why a secretary?  Probably because in 1983, that's a lot of what I saw women doing on TV!  They were admins.   I have great admiration for women who choose to be admins.  I have an amazing one now and she is my right hand at work.  I landed on that because I didn't know anything else existed at the time.


When I started dance class at 6 years old, I decided, and landed on or many years, that I wanted to be a dance teacher when I grew up and finished school.  This was probably the career I was sold on for the longest growing up.  

I always loved school and there was always an expectation that I would go to college once I graduated from high school. 

I want to clarify - my parents never pressured me about school.  Ever.  They always wanted me to do my best.  My best happened to be honors classes and very good grades, but they were never the type to say, that grade in Chemistry needs to be better.  I graduated in a class of 108 young women and I think 107 of them started off to college after graduating.


As I entered college, I had dreams of going to law school and even loftier dreams of becoming a Supreme Court Justice someday.  College is where you start to make more concrete plans about your future.  As I entered college as an 18 year old, I thought I would go to school for four years, meet my future husband while I was there, graduate college, get married, live and work somewhere in the Northeast, have kids.  It's what I pictured in my head, it's what I told people.  Well you know what they say about the best laid plans...

I did graduate from college.  But I didn't go to law school.  While in college I discovered Higher Education - as a career.  I knew people ran the college, but when I was a work study for the Residence Life department, I had the AHA moment that oh, this could be a career.  And it's what I have done for the entirety of my professional career.  I love it.

During those four years though, I never met anyone who I clicked with.  I never had a college love that turned into the person I would marry.  Mildly disappointed, but I was young and I had time.  And I had a new passion to focus on.  Graduate School.

I won't bore you with the details, this isn't a biography post, it's a post about expectations.  My expectations had to, by default, keep changing.  I didn't meet Mr. Fisher until I was 37.  I spent many years - 15 to be exact - focused on my career and building my life as an independent woman.  And I was fulfilled with that.  I had decided in my late twenties that I didn't want children.  

Single and unattached, I went wherever I wanted and accepted jobs all over the Eastern half of the US - North Carolina, Boston, Texas, Louisiana.  I built a career I loved.

I focused on my career because that's what I had.  I had family and friends and a very fulfilling life.  And it's not that I didn't date, I just never found THE ONE.  So I came to the conclusion in my mid-thirties that my expectation about marriage had to change.  I was very happy with my life.


I was living in Texas y'all.  If you had told me at 18 that I would be living in Texas at 37, having completed my doctorate in education, I would have looked at you like you were crazy.  Expectations are funny things.  They can trick you into following false stars if you let them.  In my mid thirties, I had adjusted my expectations from that 21 year old college student.  No longer was it law school, a house in the Northeast, a husband, and kids...it was finding personal fulfillment in my career and my life as a single women.  Because at 37, having long decided I didn't want kids, I figured I would probably be single for awhile.  And I was ok with that.  I traveled - wherever I wanted within my budget and I did what I wanted.  I had been doing that for years out of necessity, but now it was because I was happy to do it.  Movies, restaurants, experiences, concerts.  I did them alone because if I waited for the right guy, it would never happen.  


And then I met Mr. Fisher.  And my expectations of who I would be took an even bigger turn.  After 15 years of singledom, I knew.  I KNEW.  Immediately and without hesitation, that he was THE ONE.  And those expected years of single life evaporated in front of my eyes in a moment.   

When we met, he knew I did not want kids and at 37 it seemed like that window was closing anyway.  After I made the decision in my twenties that I didn't want kids, I instead focused on being that awesome aunt.  I loved spending time with kids, but didn't want my own, didn't need my own.  I was very honest about that when I was dating.  

And then my expectations took another wild swing in a different direction.  I started saying "what if".  "What if we did have a child".  And then we started talking about the hypothetical child.  And when we started looking at houses it was, "well if we had a kid, what school would they go to".  And I realized that I was with the one person who I would have wanted to have a child with.  Expectations are funny things, y'all.  

I went from expecting a "typical", northeastern life and ended up with a winding journey through the US.  Landing in Texas.  Married a little later in life, expecting my first child in July, in a career a never imagined when I started college.  22 year old Nichole would never have comprehended or expected to have the life that almost 42 year old Nichole has.  

I'm not disappointed.  For someone who has very particular ways about doing things and loves to have a plan, I also adapt to change and am always up for an adventure.  Looking back, would I want that life I envisioned at 18 or 22?  I don't know.  But I wouldn't trade that vision for the one I actually got to live in those years.  Did I fulfill my expectations from when I first became an adult?  Somewhat - fulfilling career, married, about to have a baby.  I just got here a different way.

Who Did You Expect To Be?

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