Am I Destined for an Ordinary Life?


The idea of being “normal” scares me.

I don’t want to roll out of bed every morning, pour my daily coffee, grab a breakfast bagel to go, and head out to my average job just like everyone else. Or do I?

I suppose my parents are pretty ordinary. My step dad wakes up at 7 a.m. every day, goes to his typical office job, sits in a cubicle for a couple hours (I’m honestly not sure what he does for a living), and always returns home at 5:30 p.m. on the dot. At this time, he’ll usually plop on the recliner to play a virtual game of golf on our PS4 or catch up on the latest episode of Shark Tank, and continue to do this until it’s time for bed. My mom works in a pharmacy, and her hours aren’t always exact, but they’re pretty regular. She fills prescriptions and deals with customers, always claiming that she works the job of 3 people so she ought to get paid more. When she gets home, she’ll usually do the dishes (while I’m likely to be curled up on the couch napping, sorry mom!), scold us for not helping, microwave herself some popcorn for dinner, and lay in her bed the rest of the night while she watches TV and scrolls through her Facebook newsfeed.

This is not the life I want as an adult.

Or at least, I don’t think so.

You see, about a year and a half ago, I got my first job working at an antique mall, and to be honest, it’s probably even more boring than it sounds. I’ll spare a detailed explanation, but the job description boils down to this: walk around, look at all the old things, help old people carry the old things, and take out the trash. And up until this point, I was never able to narrow down a career choice. I always thought I was too well-rounded, too interested in everything, too open to all the possibilities… But working at this antique mall has helped me realize that I could not do something like this for the rest of my life. No matter how much someone paid me, or what the benefits were, or how easy the job was, I would simply not last. People spend their lives on a career, working for somebody else’s dream business, pushing products for a company that they don’t truly believe in, all for what? Money? Security? Why?

So I decided this summer that, no, an ordinary job, an ordinary life, will not work for me. I want to do something bigger, something just honestly more meaningful than the hum-drum of everyday life, and most importantly I want my entire life’s work to line up with my values. So, I was able to narrow down some options. Ask me if I want to be a pharmacist: “Courtney, do you want to be a pharmacist?” Nope. Ask me if I want to be an accountant: “Courtney, are you considering accounting?” Not at all. I can’t actually narrow down my options too much just yet, but at least I can say no to *something*, which is a huge step for an extremely indecisive person like me (seriously, it takes me 20 minutes to pick out toothpaste, and don’t even get me started on clothes shopping, let alone A CAREER DECISION).

Don’t misunderstand me, please. I’m not saying that pharmacists and accountants and the like are unimportant or boring or unethical. Pharmacology is fantastic, and modern medicine never ceases to amaze me. I just don’t believe that shoving drugs down throats solves problems. We’re always focused on finding the *cure* for diseases instead of addressing them at the *cause*, which is why I’m a big supporter of holistic health and all that other hippy jazz, but that is a subject for another day and another blog post. Accounting is great since we’re all too lazy to keep up with our own finances, and I applaud people that are detailed and good enough with numbers to take on such an occupation; however, a career in accounting means that my entire job literally revolves around money, and that’s something I definitely don’t want. But we need these people in the world. Those of you who have the talent and the passion for these jobs, please go for it! I’m not saying they’re insignificant. They just aren’t for me.

So what am I saying exactly? I’m usually not so long-winded, but this has been on my heart and mind for a while, and I guess it’s pretty complicated. Props to you if you’re still reading.

I’m trying to say that being ordinary scares me, but being extraordinary scares me even more.

Starting this brand new Innovations class, surrounded by such phenomenal students who just bleed motivation and ideas and drive, I’m intimidated. I’m terrified that I’m not good enough for this class. As any decently frightened, severely procrastinating teenage girl would do, I slipped down in my chair, lower and lower, said nothing, and for the past week I made any and all excuses to just be common. To be plain. To be simple.

And in that odd endeavor, I found so much joy… in basic, ordinary things.

I love cutting up vegetables with my mom and shoving them on skewers to grill for a cookout with my family. I love playing Telestrations with my neighbors and laughing until my cheeks are sore. I love making fun of my nerdy boyfriend when he pulls out his chemistry flashcards to study while we’re on a date. I love hearing my coworker Kathy crack up at all my sarcastic remarks. I love listening to my neighbor Stephanie’s advice about anything and everything because she genuinely cares so much about me. I love sprinting around the house and chucking bouncy balls at my stepdad until we’re both out of breath. I love stuffing my face with pizza while my best friend and I sprawl out on the couch together.

Some of my favorite people are simply ordinary. I adore them not because they change the world, but because they change MY world. And isn’t that how we truly affect people? One person at a time?

This is precisely what I’m scared of: do I miss out on all the simple, authentic joys of life when I pursue extraordinary goals? Am I going to spend so much time and effort trying to make my work meaningful that I neglect the people who already make my life mean so much?

So, Mr. Wettrick, here’s the update: no, I’m still not sure what my first project is going to be. I’m doubting all my previous ideas, but I’m sure the one I’ll eventually land on will seem pretty lame and unremarkable.

Here’s to hoping it will make a difference for somebody out there; I know ordinary things definitely have that sort of power.