My first plan in life was simple. When I grew up, I wanted to be an actress.
So, I took some acting classes, did a ton of children’s theater, got some head shots taken and then realized: I was not cut out to be an actress. In order to succeed in Hollywood, you need to be pushy, assertive, and ballsy. You need to act like a prima donna before you’re really entitled to, and that was just never me. Even at age 7 I knew I couldn’t stand up in front of a roomful of people without turning beet red. So, my next plan was to be a gymnast.
My parents signed me up for gymnastics classes and ballet classes and it turned out, I was pretty good. I was extremely flexible and actually had the perfect gymnast build (which came back to haunt me years later at Midway airport when a creepy guy looked me up and down and used the line “are you in the Olympics because you look like some sort of gymnast to me”. Ick.) But the time comes in a young gymnast’s life when she is forced to choose between the sport and her social life, and I just couldn’t prioritize sweaty gym workouts over school and parties and being a teenager.
So, what was the next plan? Go to a great school, graduate with job offers left and right, and make enough money to get off my parent’s cellphone plan.
I guess I got the first part right. Uchicago is currently somewhere in the top 10 colleges in the U.S. but somehow I failed to receive the dozens of job offers from companies begging for me to come “join their team!” and… my dad still pays my blackberry bill.
So does anybody get it right? Are there girls who say, “I’m going to be an actress” and they make it happen? My friends C and N knew as early as the first week of freshman year that they wanted to work in finance. They excelled in their majors and graduated with top honors. Both girls are currently employed by the largest investment bank in the world, making close to $100k starting salary, and living in luxury apartments in buildings equipped with doormen and fitness facilities. Were they somehow better at sticking to their plans? Were they more motivated than I was?
Or, did they just get lucky?
If you have a plan set in place early on, does it make any deviation feel like a mistake? Should I look at my inability to follow a plan as some kind of wonderful spontaneity on my part or as a result of my undiagnosed ADHD? How different would my life be today if I had just stuck with the original plan?