What do you want to be when you grow up?
I remember browsing through many professions when I was young, and often being asked this question. I always wanted to be a teacher. I admired each teacher's different techniques and envied their personal libraries. Then I saw Legally Blonde and of course wanted to be a lawyer. Then I wanted to be a writer. And I still have a strong desire to write. I love the feeling of the pen in my hand, the way I can make the blank page, full. Poems were a certain interest of mine. I never was much of a haiku writer, more of a rhymer. I could rhyme for days, making silly little sayings that had the same end sound. I recently found a book of food poems. Entirely related to ingredients and some of composed dishes. That's a thing, someone seriously wrote that. Maybe I could write that. Would anyone buy a copy of my witty foodie poetry? Hmm. I remember my little sister always used to tell us that she wanted to be a "face-painter" when she grew up. You know, those who paint characters on children's faces at the fair, or birthday parties. She did not want to be an artist. But a face-painter specifically.
My mom and I used to cater together. We would do a funeral reception, or a few baby showers. I would clear the tables and she would make the food. I did not mind peeling a potato or two, but stayed mainly in the dining room. One day she wanted to switch places, and well that's how I ended up in the kitchen. I still like the dining room, I actually enjoy the customer interaction. But whenever I order lunch at my family's restaurant, I still always retreat back to the kitchen and stand munching on my sandwich, chatting with who ever is behind the line. I grew up in the kitchen; I played with serving utensils instead of toys made by FisherPrice. I guess it came as second nature to me, being in the kitchen, living in the kitchen. Family always congregates in the kitchen, and family is very important to me.
So where is all of this going? What do I want to be when I grow up? Well you thought you knew already. I guess the only definitive profession that encompasses all of the above is a Mom. I want to be a mom when I grow up. I will get a chance to be a teacher when I am a mom. I will get a chance to be a lawyer and represent my children. I will get a chance to write cute little poems in their lunch boxes. I will be able to create dinner for them every night and be their personal chef. And maybe I can even take them to their Aunt Margot's house so that they can get their face painted.
My mom has always been the best example. She has encouraged me to strive for my dreams and thanks to her in 21 days I will be graduating from the best culinary school in the nation. And the question of the hour is what are you going to do when you graduate? Some people may find me crazy. When I look ten years down the road, I would rather be a mom and have a happy family than be the executive chef of a five star restaurant. That's what is important to me. I will graduate three weeks from today, and Chris and I will be moving to Rochester to start our next adventure together. I hope to maybe find a job writing a food column for the paper or maybe even a magazine. I have to start off slow, and build my "portfolio" at Chris' recommendation. Maybe I will even find a butcher shop that has a hiring sign out front, and I can do that for fun.
Everyone rushes through life, hoping to beat each other to the next best thing. Why don't we take a moment and slow down. Enjoy the life we have, who knows what will happen tomorrow? I recently attended a talk by Anthony Rudolf, who is a graduate from my school. When he gave the talk, he was the director of operations of Thomas Keller's restaurant group in NYC. He is 33. Now before hearing him speak, I assumed that he was going to talk about how important education is and how it gave him tremendous success at such a young age. Instead, he discussed 11 values that you need to have in order to be successful, including: Patience, the power of awareness, sacrifice, skyscraper attitude, hospitality is a team sport, talent is overrated, a positive frame of mind, seek first to understand, know who your guests are, in order to be a general you need an army, and last but not least- change is inevitable. It would be a moo point for me to try and explain his entire lecture because I cannot capture his life as well as he did. But a few points that really hit me were theses:
Positive Frame of Mind: Other people throw barriers at us, why should we have to bound over those barriers and also deal with barriers that we put up ourselves. Do not create your own road blocks. Positive actions leader to positive results.
Seek first to understand: The window in which each individual sees the world is different. This is called a paradigm. Here he referred to "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" (of which Chris has a copy). He spoke of how we seek to impress upon others instead of trying to understand them, and this is where misunderstandings occur, thus putting up those barriers which are unnecessary.
Sacrifice: He explained that when you decide to work on Christmas, you are not sacraficing, because you are doing what you love, you are having fun. The people who are making the sacrafice, are those that you are not able to spend the holiday with. They are unhappy that you are not there. While you may feel bad and wish that you were there, you are the only one who could make that possible, your loved ones could not. So understand that they are the people who suffer.
Then he released that in three weeks he would be leaving the restaurant group. And so the question came; "What is next for you?" Well he told us the honest truth, he would be taking some time off in order to "be that guy at the coffee shop in the middle of the afternoon." He wanted to know how it felt to just do nothing. He said that he was going to "get to know his wife better," something I assume should of and could have been done earlier but hadn't. He forewarned us not to dive in, but to build ourselves up. He was forced to slow his career down in order to redistribute balance in his life, he told us this should happen from the get go. Why rush to get somewhere when you can just enjoy the ride. We only live one life right?
I guess that although there is a lot of pressure with graduation and the ultimate job search, the best thing I can do is establish myself. Define my values, put some balance in my boots. But I am going to take it slow, going to make decisions everyday, and going to face challenges as they meet me. I don't need to put ads out saying "looking for a Mom position". I will be a mom one day, in good time. But for now; happiness is the journey, not the destination. And in the words of Peter Pan “To live will be an awfully big adventure.”
Let It Be.