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What did You Want to be When You Grew Up?

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Dana has been writing for years about her life experiences in order to help others and pass on what she has learned.

My Passion

Well, what did you want to be? I wanted to dance. I lusted after choreographers like Paula Adbul and dancers like Janet Jackson. I studied their videos on MTV on Saturday mornings and then danced my little heart away on our brown shaggy carpet. I also began to make up my own routines to songs. I would put on pretend performances in my room to an audience. I would imagine the people loved me and clapped until their hands were blistered. I also would imagine the cute boyfriend sitting in the front row with admiration cheering me on. On the weekends when both of my parents were working, it was the ultimate time. I would get an extension cord for my boom box and move it into the living room for more space. I had a huge auditorium of fans. It was wonderful when I escaped into my own world. I was the star; the center of attention. I was the one who everyone wanted to be.

Sadly, my career choice was not supported by my family. I was told I did not have the body to be a dancer. Some said Dancers didn't make steady money. The average dancer's shot at making it was one in a million. As a young preteen I was discouraged and never pursued what truly made me happy. It's true, I was a chubby kid. So what? It's what I loved. It's what saved me from a lonely and sullen life as a child. That is another story.

I moved on still dancing in my room to my pretend audience until early high school. I was then coached to do something that made money. So I took paralegal courses after graduating at a local community college. I loathed it. I could not keep my eyes open in class. I could not stand sitting and listening to lectures I had zero interest in. The only aspect I enjoyed was the writing and research. Nevertheless, I changed my major and went into elementary education. This appeared to be "acceptable" at home. I transferred to a California State University and graduated with honors.

You would think I would have found my calling. I thought I had. I loved children. I wanted to make a difference, again to be someone admirable. I skipped pursuing my credential and went straight into preschool teaching. It satisfied me for a while, but I wanted and needed to get out on my own. Teaching preschool does not pay well and to this day I will never understand why. I was lucky enough to find a mediocre paying teaching job at a high profile private school in Pacific Palisades and moved out into my first apartment. It was paradise. I met my husband in that building. Yep, everything happens for a reason. I am grateful for that job. I would have never met my life partner without it.

After time, I became empty emotionally and intellectually bored from my chosen career path. I loved the kids, there was no doubt about that. I just found no challenge anymore in what I did 5 days a week. The school was beautiful. Wealth and a lovely hillside surrounded me, but it wasn't enough.

Life happened and we eventually bought a house in the valley. I left the high profile school in the hills and was suddenly without a job. I found a job at an insurance company through a friend. The pay was good. The job entailed constant phone calls and a high volume of tasks to be done timely. It was a high stress job, and yes I know most jobs are. I still found myself in the same misery as I was at the school. It did not fill me up. It was definitely a challenge, but I felt a crater-sized hole inside every time I drove to work Monday through Friday. I sat in a cube talked to unsatisfied people and attempted to manage an overwhelming workload. I felt like i was drowning. I was in a lake, couldn't keep my head above water and drowning. Is this what life is supposed to be like? Does everyone hate what they do for a living? My husband didn't so why did I?

As strange as it sounds, I am thankful for the insurance job because it allowed for us to care for 2 beautiful children and ourselves of course. However, I am here now, wondering why I have to push through my life being miserable 8 hours a day just to survive? I may survive, but I'm not living. The misery eventually spilled over to my home life. Depression overcame me and I couldn't withstand the daily grind any longer.

After taking some time off I re-discovered my love of writing. I have a spouse who fully supports it and my children now have a happier, less stressed mom. The only catch is I'm starting over from square one. I'm writing as much as I can and trying to find work. I am now re-visiting that phrase I was told at 12 years old: "it's a hard industry to break into." I'm not being naive, but something has changed this time around. I'm an adult now and I'm not going to give up. The pessimism and negativity can be and has to be shut out. I can finally do something that I love and that I choose and pray that success will come. I'm with my daughter every day and find the time to write in any way that I can. I do not know what lies ahead. There are so many 'what ifs.' Some of the people in my life are not supportive. It's a risk and I know this. However, I am putting forth the effort and praying that the fruits of my work will come through if it's meant to be. How could it not be? It's my passion. My first love was trampled on and I'm not letting this one go. I won't let my family suffer of course; if I have to go back to misery land I will. This is where faith is crucial. I have to have faith in the path that was already planned for me. And when I have no faith I turn to the people who can have it for me when I need them to. My husband, my true friends and family are now in the audience rooting for me. The need to pretend that there's invisible people in my corner is now in the past. I am forever grateful for that.

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