Paul Ryan, Julia Roberts, Oprah and Me

Did you know that Paul Ryan is the same age as me? Someone my age is running for Vice President of the United States. Someone my age could be a breath away from the White House. That means that I could potentialy be a breath away from the white house! Or I could if I had made totally different choices with my life.

Some days I look at a fact like that and I wonder if I have made the right choices with my life. Have I settled for mediocrity when I could have pursued the big dreams? When I graduated from high school I thought about pursuing a degree in political science. Who knows where I would be today if I had followed that path rather than dropping out of school to get married and raise a family.

Julia Roberts is a few years older than me but I remember realizing when I had my son at 23 that she was a huge movie star at my age making millions. I wondered aloud to my husband what I had done wrong. Since I have no theatrical aspirations whatsoever and never would have pursued that career, he just gave me the “you are crazy” look and moved on. He doesn’t get caught up in comparing himself to others the way I do. He didn’t think I had done anything wrong, just made different choices.

I have a wonderful friend who was recently commenting on the fact that Oprah claimed her 40’s were her best decade ever. This friend in her mid 40’s said she keeps waiting for this best decade ever experience to which Oprah refers. I concur with her, this decade is feeling like quite a bit of hard work to me. But as we talked I realized Oprah doesn’t have kids. We are in the midst of it all in our 40’s, raising kids, building careers, husbands, homes, friends. It is not all about us, this decade feels like it is about everyone but us. We need women like Oprah who don’t have families and can put all their energy into making a difference in the world, but we really need women like me and my friend Jackie who are busy raising the next generation and making a huge difference on a small scale.

This past week I had someone ask me a question that clearly implied he thought I was further along career wise than I actually am. I tried to stand tall enough to answer the question but the reality is I am just not there yet. I spent the next couple days feeling like a failure. But I realized I am just getting started. I am exactly where I should be based on my starting date and my skill set. I will keep moving forward and questions like that help motivate me to keep moving forward.

I could never regret my years at home. They may have put me 20 years behind on my career track but they put me 20 years ahead in my family track. I love my family and cherish the years I gave fully to them. Now they are supporting me as I pursue a new career, a career outside my home.

I am not a young fresh face in the corporate world, I am the old woman filled with experience and wisdom. I might not be a 42 vice presidential candidate or a million dollar pretty woman in my early 20s and this might not feel like the best decade ever, but it is far from too late for me to accomplish anything and make a difference in my family, my career, my community and my world.