The Roads You Didn’t Take

There’s a part of me that still believes I have a big career in me. I could return to school for an executive MBA and find my voice and confidence to move up quickly on a high-potential path from junior executive to C-suite.

With my astute decision making leading to unprecedented revenue growth I’d no longer have to apply to jobs — jobs would apply to me. And 10 years later I’d look back at the last decade not as a smorgasbord of fake-it-till-you-make-it and no substantial work meriting pride but a full narrative around doing a whole bunch of great things. Maybe I’d be in one of those lists… despite no longer being young enough to make it into a 40 under 40. Perhaps a 50 under 50 but over 40. A 6 shy of 60. The one to watch. The one whose career is worth at least a couple of articles in respected trade publications.

Or – I quit the workforce entirely to write full time. A novel. A memoir. A TV series. A film or play or interactive art piece titled “pretentious” because it obviously is.  I create a storyline and cast and direct and edit something that goes on the internet and goes viral. Because everyone goes viral these days so why not me? I do something unique enough to capture some audience that wants more.

Or… I hand in my resignation and live off savings, moving to some town no one has heard of to live a life that won’t ever be heard of either. As a mom. Driving my kids to practices and classes and field trips. Volunteering at the school because there’s so much free time and I ought to use it doing something useful. 10 years of that.

Or none of these, more likely, just a schmuck doing some job half-ass not because I want to but because that’s all I’m genuinely capable of. Working for sociopathic leaders who at best are fake kind when you serve their visions well and at worst make you feel like shit until you land in a mental institution or die, whichever comes first.

There are so many roads and yet most of them seem so far away. Their starting point is a huge death defying leap across a chasm of diamond-tipped spikes just waiting to gut me alive. So I stay safely on the other side despite this wall behind me speeding up from a distance, clearly ready to nudge me off the ledge with no more space for a respectable momentum-building leap. So I wait until I fall violently to the end or I run and jump and try to make it across with my legs swirling at full speed in the air, like some long jumper who actually knows what the hell she’s doing — or perhaps not as gracefully but somehow I make it across, ready to take on the other side.

I don’t know and I’ll never know which is why I seem to just be waiting to be pushed off. Most people are here with me. Who says the other side is any better?

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