Today we have a post from Stephanie Florence, 40:20 Vision’s contributing / Millennial editor, reflecting on how childhood dreams affect the people we become.
Adults love to ask children…”What do you want to be when you grow up?” Our young minds produce answers grounded in both make believe and reality – a mom, a baseball player, a police officer, an airplane (not a joke…and proof that my parents encouraged a strong imagination). The world is our oyster…even mundane jobs seem exotic. But did these visions of our future self have anything to do with what we become?
When I was in kindergarten I wanted to be a “businesswoman” who was the boss – even had a cotton dress that looked like a two-piece blazer and pencil skirt (I meant business at snack time). In 5th grade I wanted to be the first woman president. While I haven’t worked in these roles (yet), I see that a key component of each is connecting people – what I think I was put on this earth to do.
My pal Bonnie put this idea into such clear focus for me following a night out when I felt compelled to promote her budding music career (y’all – go listen now, I would love for Bonnie’s voice to create the soundtrack to my blog post).
Back story: I was leaving a bar in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan when a dozen gents sitting near the exit caught my attention. I mean, what girl wouldn’t do an about-face for that kind of party? They invited me to join them and after hearing their accents, I was sold. It wasn’t until two hours or so, and a couple of free beers later, that I learned of their day job – they were either in or worked for the band The Script. Almost immediately, the PR professional wheels starting turning to determine how I could connect Bonnie to someone on The Script team. I’m a firm believer of the notion that you ‘never know unless you ask’ and this evening was fortunately no different. By simply asking, I was able to get an email address of someone who was open to hearing from Bonnie and more about her music. He may have been the lighting technician, but hey – it was a start. And I certainly had more to show for my night out than a headache the next morning.
In the hilarious email chain that followed that next day where I told Bonnie about said run-in, she brought up this quote by Mark Twain:
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
Bonnie went on to tell me: “You’re so good at connecting the dots – not just with people, but also events, which is why you so easily write after you experience something. You absorb the moment and can easily link and consolidate it into a story that not only connects with people, but also connects them to one another in return.”
I was floored by her kind words and as I sat back to let them soak in, I realized homegirl is right. I never miss an opportunity to make a connection – to a new friend or a professional contact. My mantra: never leave home without a business card! I make connections daily…from mentoring students and recent grads on their job search to engaging socially with women across the country about fitness for my job. I feel grateful to have a ‘Bonnie’ in my life to shed light on this and most importantly, that I found out my purpose so early in life.
I thought if I could connect my career path to the 5 year old and 5th grade versions of myself, other inspiring women in my life could likely do the same. So I set out to share their stories – enjoy!
Denise Restauri – From Fashion Designer to Designing Lives
“When I was five years old, scissors in hand, I opened the door to my small closet, pulled out my blue flowered “big girl” dress and cut off the puffy sleeves. I hated those sleeves. That was my first deep dive into the fashion design world. As a teenager, I would whip up outfits for parties, made a “sister of the bride” dress and loved being a stylist to the stars (my friends). When I was 16 years old, armed with $25 and a scarf I made, I sat on the stairs anxiously waiting for my big brother to come home from Yale for the weekend so I could borrow money to pay for my trip from Pittsburgh to New York City where I would show “them” my fashion creations.
But those dreams died when my guidance counselor who didn’t have a clue how to guide a teenager who didn’t want to be a teacher or nurse, told me to drop the fashion dream because I didn’t have what it took (I could drape and sew, but couldn’t draw). As I look back, my love for fashion design was my desire to connect my creativity to help women look and feel their best as they walk down the runways of life. Because life is filled with runways – from walking in the door for an interview to meeting the boyfriend’s parents.
I never did become a fashion designer but I did become an entrepreneur that gave me the freedom to connect my creativity with helping women – not in what they’re wearing (although I have been a stylist in my career), but something even more important — in creating platforms for them to amplify their voices, share their stories and dreams, and encourage others to join them. I give women, especially young women, a different runway to walk down — a powerful runway filled with their stories.” –Denise Restauri, 60-something, GirlQuake Founder & CEO, Forbes Contributor and author
Jen Glantz – From Barbie Fan to Blogger
“I played with Barbie dolls a lot when I was little. I’m talking more than I played with other little (non-plastic) humans. These Barbies were my closest friends. They knew the intimate details of my elementary school life and they never complained when I spent hours dressing them up, combing their hair and having them flirt with Ken and his crew of surfer-like hotties. While other girls were trying out hobbies that would stick with them from training bras to learning Victoria’s Secret, I played with my dolls.
I was painfully shy as a little girl, so playing with my Barbies was the first way I was able to express myself comfortably. Then, I started to read…a lot. I fell madly in love with stories and poetry…with characters and dialogue and people and places and things. The realization that so much could be let out to the world without saying a single word inspired me…and opened up a whole new life for me.
As a girl who could barely speak her three letter name without trembling and turning vampire red, the idea of writing became the ultimate answer to my lack of verbal expression.
At age 6, while I was creating stories with my Barbies or crayon-writing poetry on computer paper, I don’t think I knew I wanted to grow up to be a blogger and the author of a book of dating disaster stories. But I do think I learned very early on that there are powerful stories living inside of us. Turns out I would forever find a way to tell those stories – even when I grew out of Limited Too dresses.” –Jen Glantz, 20-something, author, blogger and founder of Bridesmaid for Hire
Did a younger version of yourself lead you a particular direction in your career? We’d love to hear your story in the comments or in your own post. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 in this series.
Stephanie Florence is a 20-something who can talk to a brick wall and dance to a kazoo. She contributes to the 40:20 Vision as the Millennial editor and on every day that ends in “y” you can find Stephanie meeting people, telling exceedingly long stories and taking the approach of a student…always. Find her dancing around New York City in her personalized Chuck Taylors, complete with her Twitter handle: @StephanieFlo.