Monday, June 1, 2009

Still deciding what I want to be when I grow up

Hello Ruthie.

Hi. Who are you?

I’m Telle. I’m you. Just grown up now.

Telle? Why do you have a different name if you’re me?

Chuckle. Yeah, mom tried to warn me against changing my name. As for why I changed…it was silly. I just decided to go by my middle name, Estelle, instead.

Oh. So…how do we turn out? Are we flying helicopters like we’re supposed to? That’s gonna be so cool.

Sigh. Well, no. We scrape teeth for a living. Dental hygienist. It’s more than just scraping…it can be rewarding most days to work with people and give them a safe, comfortable environment to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Wow. That really sounds boring.

Yeah. I thought we wanted to fly helicopters for a medivac company, or the Coast Guard, or something really exciting.

Well…it turns out we get airsick pretty easily. I did try…applied for the Army, which refused to take us because of our eyesight. Years later, I went after my private pilot’s license. On one training flight, my instructor had me force the small Cessna into a stall, then cram the stick forward, plunging the nose of the plane towards the ground to build up enough lift to break out of the stall. We didn’t have barf bags on board, and I was too proud to let it out, so…I swallowed it back down. Twice.


Really gross. I did get to fly solo, which is one of the most defining moments in our life. That was amazing. But I finally had to admit that flying choppers wasn’t a wise career choice.

Oh. Well. I don’t get it, though. I want to do something totally cool; I want to see the awe in a person’s eyes when they ask me what kind of job I have.

Why is that so important to you? That people are fascinated by what you do?

I don’t know…I just don’t want to be boring. Being different is all I know. I don’t fit in – I know, I know, a lot of people say that. But you know how literal that is for me. Us. Whatever. I’m growing up here in Africa, my blonde hair, pale skin, blue eyes guarantee I stick out next to the ebony-skinned natives. I’m from a different universe to them.

Yeah, I remember feeling that. And believe me, that feeling stays with us for the rest of our life. Spending the majority of our formative years being that different from our surroundings will set us apart in our adult years. We see the world through different glasses than most of our friends and acquaintances here in America. Believe it or not, I’ve met some people that have never even left the state that they were born in. Now that’s weird.

Hm. So…why do we become a dental hygienist? Why not something cooler?

Well, most of the reasons that led to that decision won’t make much sense to you until you’re older. It has been a very rewarding job. But don’t worry…you won’t be bored.

What do you mean?

The beauty of life is that you never stop dreaming. I remember that yearning for excitement and adventure in life. Trust me, those feelings never abate. Last month, I went canyoning in Puerto Rico; later this year I’m going to Jordan to run the first marathon in Petra. So don’t worry, we never stop seeking those amazing experiences in life; it’s just not career-driven right now.

So why don’t we become a guide for an adventure company, or a scuba dive master, or something cool like that? Why did you become such a sell-out? I don’t ever want to settle for something so…so…. BORING!!

You don’t have to have a heart-pounding adventure every day to make life exciting and worthwhile. Besides…it’s not your lifelong career. We’re getting ready to move on to something else soon. You don’t realize it yet, but you – we – have a gift that we ignore for decades before we accept it as a talent worth honing.

Really? What is it? Please tell me it’s something cool.

You’ll have to be patient, find it in your own time. Meanwhile, enjoy the ride. You’ll meet some amazing people, travel to places that blow your mind, experience heartbreaks and healings that make for a life even more exciting than any helicopter-flying career could have ever given us.


  1. very nice. love your attitude. unfortunately a lot of us made decisions when we were young that created a less exciting life. Commitments ruled. You are young and wise... a very rare combination

  2. This made me smile - great read. I hope you will keep writing!

  3. Thanks for the visits! Old Grizz - hope your story gets linked soon so that I can read. Appreciate the encouragement.

  4. i really liked ur story..seem to come from a matur writer...xperienced abt life...well the concept is gr8..waiting for many more to of luck....

  5. Just dropped in to give you an invitation, since "Tell a Tale" host seem to have disappeared.

    If you still like to write and share short stories, there’s a new Meme hosted by our friend Maggie at Inkwell Drops. Please join us there, as I have missed reading your short stories.