Like most women my age, I have dreams. I have dreams: big, broad, sweeping, glamorous dreams. Dreams of changing the the world, feeding the hungry, saving the children….
Ironically, perhaps, this post about my dreams is inspired by the fact that I cannot sleep.
Well, I was asleep, but my body woke up with a distinct message to my brain: “eat more food and drink more water to avoid hangover.” A message which I quickly obliged, because who gets a hangover after two drinks in four hours? I do not want to be that person.
But, I had two margaritas at a classy restaurant in Rockville, MD after a business meeting with my team. I work on a sales team of about twelve people, I’m the only female, and aside from one other guy I am the youngest by at least ten years. And in most cases, fifteen. Anyway, these guys are all respectable, funny, delightful, successful guys. So, after my second drink, I asked them: “Do you think it would be worth it for me to go to business school?
Now, you should know, one of my big sweeping dreams is to own my own company. That’s how, after four years and a degree in politics (and a brief stint as an elementary school teacher), I wound up with a job in High-tech sales.
The head of my team gave a resounding, emphatic “No” while the other guys solemnly nodded their head in agreement. “A good five to ten years of experience in the field would give you more and better experience, while paying you. You could stay here for two years, double your salary, and move up in position without ever going into debt.”
I knew he was right, and to be honest I am not even remotely considering business school. But thanks to his words, this was the first time I had considered the prospect of doubling my salary. This would mean that, including OTE, I could be making six figures only four years after my college graduation.
This is where the concept of Grand, Sweeping dreams comes in. When I graduated two years ago, I was convinced that the starving artist life would eventually lead to my dreams of making enough money to have influence and promote change in the world. Now, I’m not so sure.
Here’s another thing you should know about me: I am 24, and I have already been married for a year. AKA, I am one of those few millennials who got married young. When you have a family, your financial priorities change. For the first time in my life, I understand why parents always want their kids to go to college for a career that can support you, give you benefits, provide forward momentum. For the first time in my life, I am thinking, maybe I should get rich first and then promote myself as an artist, rather than the other way around.
Here’s the thing about making money: when you start making it, you want to make more and more. After my most recent promotion, there were almost two months where I was too comfortable: for the first time ever I thought “maybe I can just work here forever. No need to start my own company, or write books or movies”. When you start making money, the challenge is, how do you keep sight of your dreams and not get blinded by the glitter and gold?
I still have sweeping, glamorous dreams of stardom and notoriety, but I am learning that supporting myself as an entrepreneur and business owner, having benefits and paying off debts, working towards buying a house and retirement, these are things that can and should be done while I am young. As one of my coworkers put it: “you can’t change the world until you take care of yourself.”