Sunday, July 07, 2013

What Grownups Do

Last weekend, our local neighborhood association hosted a "stroll" where local businesses offered discounts and activities. We walked up and down the street, poking our heads into art galleries, yarn stores, cafes, and other eateries.

Margaret learning about screen printing from a local art gallery and indie screen print artist.

At the Actual Cafe.

YARN! Also, Margaret holding a magnifying glass. And a small tiny bit of Stephen West's (yes, the famous knitwear designer) head.

When we got down to Pepple's Donut Farm, home of vegan and organic donuts and previously known as People's Donut Farm (a la People's Republic of Berkeley), I read something on the wall that said their donut business started 5 years ago.

Five years ago some people got together and said, "Hey! Let's start a donut shop!"

It kind of blew my mind. I looked at myself: 27, capable. I could open a donut shop if I wanted.

A few weeks ago, I read an article about a professional helicopter pilot. Of course people like that exist- but why was that never on my radar?

I was good in school. I got A's, honor roll, math team, AP classes, college. Everything I did as a kid was set up into a particular story: go to school, do well, get a job for a company. The "Mormon" part of the story included getting married and having kids and staying home. Never were options like "become a helicopter pilot" or "open a donut shop" given to me as viable options. I was a "good student" so my career track was "above" trades, art, and manual labor, so they weren't even presented as options. And I just accepted that.

If you had told me I could open a donut shop, I'd have questioned why you think that would be a good idea. Who does that? I mean, aren't Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme enough? And what would you study to do that? If there wasn't a "major" in college associated with it, it didn't exist to me. It would have been 100% inconceivable to me to put some money together and start up a shop. But people do that! Because that's what grownups do. They create things, they don't just fill holes in cubicles. Well, they can do that, too, if they want. But they don't have to.

I feel like I am just now as an adult seeing the options available to me. Just now, in my late 20s, I'm seeing that there are more options than my guidance counselors and teachers and professors and parents even mentioned.

I made a point to tell Margaret, "Do you see those people? They started this donut shop! You could start a donut shop some day."

I also tell her, "Look, that woman is driving the bus. You could drive a bus someday."

"Look, that person is a librarian. You could do that."

"Look! That person is an artist. You could do that."

"Look, that person makes violins. You could do that."

No one told me these things. There was one track and it ended in working for "the Man" because that's where the money is and therefore that's where the happiness is. Well, actually for me, it ended in being a SAHM with a husband working for "the Man." But still. The Man is involved.

I think this is one place where I think homeschooling my kids will give them a greater advantage than me. There aren't guidance counselors discouraging them from taking non-honors classes because they have to take as many AP classes as they can. There aren't parents taking them out of band because it's "distracting." I'm hoping that stripping down the school system for my children will also strip down the notions that you have to study certain fields to get certain "acceptable" jobs and have a certain acceptable life.

My kids can get a "regular" 9-5 job if they want, but they can also open a donut shop.

And I could get a 9-5 job if I wanted. Or I could open a donut shop. Or become a helicopter pilot. Or start a knitting and cycling podcast. And become a published knitwear designer. And edit and write children's books with people I've met online. Because again, that's what grownups do.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! Scott and I have struggled a lot with this issue in the past few years: the idea that "smart" people should have office jobs. Scott really enjoyed being a maintenance guy in college and he hated being a middle manager working for the church. He's found something acceptable to love now but for a long time he was disappointed that no one ever encouraged him to study a trade when he was a teenager. And so now, we want to make sure our kids know that there are other options for them, not just the high school-college-cubicle track. I want them to know that if they are happy and contributing, I am PROUD of them, whether they are plumbers or doctors.


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