This year has been filled with plenty of great accomplishments and moments that have simply taken my breath away. One in particular came just recently in the form of a feature in my alma mater’s alumni magazine: a feature on lil ol’ me.
That’s right: there’s a feature on me in this latest edition of Odyssey, the alum publication for Queens University of Charlotte. I was interviewed for the piece months ago before I came to the campus to visit with the students during Alumni Weekend in April. Between that visit and this feature, it got me thinking about 19 year-old me, and what she’d think of all of this.
19 year-old me was a fashion-obsessed college student who was struggling a bit at the time. Gangly, filled with dreams, impressionable, and smart, I made my way through the hallowed halls of my small Southern university (which was Queens College at the time, it hadn’t yet reached university status) and tried to chart the educational course that would give me my best life. I was an idealistic Art and Business Major who wanted to graduate and go work for Saatchi and Saatchi after graduation, maybe publish a couple of books. 19 year-olds are filled with dreams and a great sense of direction but, let’s face it, some of us are distracted by shiny objects. I was often distracted.
19 year-old me would be shocked that I’d made it as a feature in the alumni publication. All those people seemed to really have it together. She would have laughed it all off and said, “Me, alongside all those other captains of industry? Ha! A likely story,” before she scampered off to finish her Accounting homework or project for Professor Johnson’s Printmaking class. Two degrees in two subjects that had zero intersection; like I said, I was often distracted.
19 year-old me would have never dreamed that I would take those degrees and spend 15 years in corporate America in jobs that had nothing to do with who I was. She would never have dreamed we’d spend six whole years with bosses who systematically beat any artistic influence out of us bit by bit. She would have been aghast that we would put down the sketch pads and pencils for two decades, that we wouldn’t write again until 2006. She wouldn’t have believed that we’d have executives crush us by saying we couldn’t move into creative positions because we had “too much business acumen for us to let you sit behind a desk and draw all day.” She’s never guess the career move into HR, the multiple moves and cities, the loves she’d gain and lose, and that in 2007 all would be cast aside for one chance to correct the errors, to make a break for it, to come full circle back to that plucky, lucky, fashion-obsessed girl filled with artistic dreams.
She’s also be pretty fired up about how things turned out, especially when she found out that we’d interview and have a moment with Drew Barrymore.
But I have a feeling 19 year-old me would look at all of this, reflect on it and sign up for the ride. Because look where that journey has led us: she gets to be me, here and now, and life’s looking pretty damn good.
So, as I read this lovely article on me in my college paper, I think back to what 19 year-old me would think about it. I’d like to think she’d be as excited, honored and happy about it as I am today, and that she’d do it all over again. Except this time, she’s insist that we bring the sketch pads and the art pencils. Life’s too short not to take a break now and then to draw a little.
19 year-old me would tell you the same thing that 40-something-year-old me would tell you: it’s never too late to get the life you want. Never.