I recently interviewed for a position as a teacher at a nonprofit. This nonprofit has been around for about 20 years and was built through the hard work and resilience of its founder. For years she struggled to just get by financially as she structured an organization whose cause was dear to her. She took ownership and never looked back.
As someone struggling to make a difference, through my own nonprofit, she was an inspiration to me. We had talked over the phone and I had emailed her my resume, as well as links to Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s (FMN) web page, Facebook page, and other social media. I had forwarded my bio and had explained the history of FMN.
But as I walked in the door, my heart fell a little. I sensed tension and her face said it all. She didn’t even look remotely interested in the fact that I had arrived. Instead, she gruffly introduced herself and led me to her office. Once there, she left only to return a few minutes later with one of her current teachers.
She shuffled through some papers on her desk, ultimately pulling out my resume and plopping down in the chair.
“So, tell me about yourself,” she quipped.
I proceeded to share my past education and employment but was promptly shut down with a startling question.
“Tell me about this Forget Me Not Advocacy Group. Who started it?”
“I did,” I blurted out. Didn’t I tell her that on the phone and in the email that I had founded FMN? Didn’t I send her information and links, and put that information on my resume. Not only had she not prepared to meet with me, she had not even listened to me during our phone conversation.
From there, she wanted details. What did we do? How many had we reached? What was our vision? Where would we be five years from now?
I answered everything as best as I could, as she rushed me along, only to be blindsided by yet another question out of left field.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” she said looking down her nose at me.
Needless to say, the interview did not continue or end well. She lectured me on our organization’s name, told me she didn’t care for it, questioned our ability to grow, reminded me how hard it was, and then stated that “She would never understand why people stay with men who abuse them.”
Over the course of ten minutes, she managed to insult me as a professional and an individual in ways I have not encountered in quite some time.
Which leads me back to the “what do you want to be” question.
My answer, “to be free.” I want to be free from cages and walls. Free from people trying to control my life. Free to be the person I’m meant to be. Free to do a job that makes me smile instead of cry. Free to be loved by the right people. Free of the confines of controlling individuals. Free to be me!
Of course I didn’t say any of those things. I felt the need to explain that my resume spoke to my life experiences. That all the moving was due to my ex-husbands desire to constantly move. That I made the best choices I could at difficult times in my life. That I have changed and grown as an adult and like to follow whatever path life leads me down.
And to me, that is what life is all about. We are all growing and changing as we move through this thing called life. We make mistakes, and we hopefully learn from them. We get hurt and we heal. We struggle, but we find our way. And through all of it, we change. Our interests, our ambitions, our passions all change based on those experiences. And that is ok.
That is called growth.
Growth will raise me up into an old woman who is happy with the path she has chosen. Growth will lead me to help others and not focus on myself. Growth will mold me into the person I am supposed to be that very instant in time. Nothing more and nothing less.
And, you know what? I’m ok with that.
We will run into those who will laugh at us or try to make us feel bad for being free. Just remember, that is their issue…not yours. Go out and follow your path, your dreams, and your passions. Where you are supposed to arrive is yet to be determined.
Amy Daumit is the founder of Forget Me Not Advocacy Group, which started as an extension of the “forget me not blog.” She is an author and advocate for domestic violence education and prevention. You can learn more about Amy at amydaumit.com.