a breakfast serial

One bite-sized story every morning to uplift, motivate, or provoke thought.

Queen of the Jungle Gym

< by Annie of Third Wave Domesticity >

The ladder: College. STEP. Major. STEP. Job (stay at job and get promoted). STEP. Marriage. STEP. Baby. STEP. Work(keep getting promoted). STEP. Retire. STEP. Die.

“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” Sheryl Sandberg nailed it in Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. The “ladder” has confined my ability to grow and pursue my dreams. I did not realize this until 5 months ago, and I did not have the words to articulate it until weeks ago. Life after college has taught me that: Annie cannot climb the ladder (besides I am insanely clumsy), Annie needs to play on a jungle gym.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” During college I felt an overwhelming pressure to have an answer to this question. I would take walks and think of everything I wanted to be and do and feel helpless. My lack of “knowing” led me to… grad school. While in my last year of grad school I still couldn’t answer. I did not have a ladder to climb, I did not have specific steps to take. Compound this scatter brain with my dad committing suicide and the result… I joined Teach for America. TFA was another way for me to delay the inevitable.

Teaching was comfortable and secure, graduate school was safe. To me the ladder (the metaphoric one at least) is safe. The confinement of safety has weighed heavy on my heart for years. What I have realized is that I prefer that we ask “What is your goal in life?” I can answer that one.

I think I have known my goal since college. In fact, I think if I truly reflect I have known my purpose since I was a kid. My goal is to empower girls and women and shift the inequities that plague our country. No big deal. I have tried to take on roles throughout college and afterwards that would move me towards this goal but I still did not have a defined path to meet this goal. I often made lemonade out of my lemon jobs in the hopes of moving towards this goal.

I have made many moves on my jungle gym and I think the biggest is yet to come. I have taken control and power over my career by creating a role that embodies everything I love and everything I hope to achieve. College or the constant “what do you want to be when you grow up?” did not teach me that I was going to start a business. If I was climbing the ladder I would take the super cushy job I was offered last week.

Life after college has proven to me that comfortable (the ladder) is not what is always right. Finding your passion and pursuing it in an authentic way is what leads to happiness. I am one happy lady.

My “lemonade” after college …

women1 women2 women3


  on thehomefrontandbeyond wrote @

we need more of you and your goals!

  Queen of the Jungle Gym | shirley does Feminism. wrote @

[…] Full post: Queen of the Jungle Gym. […]

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