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What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up

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Published by chris_goforth

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Published by: chris_goforth on Jul 30, 2010
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07/30/2010

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I was in 2nd grade when I finally began reading chapter books. I was an avid reader froma young age and once I learned I read lots and lots of books. My reading prowessactually won a couple of contests in school. To this day I still love to read, but oftenchallenges in my life don’t always allow for time just to sit down and read books. I try toread a book a month but in all honesty it takes 3 – 4 months for me to read just one.Generally at the end of the year I take 2 weeks off, purchase a couple of books I havewanted to read and actually tackle them in a matter of days. This last Christmas I readthe “Good Men Project” by Tom Matlack and “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” byDonald Miller. Great books by amazing men and if you’re looking for something to read Ihighly recommend them.As a young child one of the books that really struck me was reading a book about HelenKeller. It told the story of her life, what she had gone through and it all seemed toresonate with me. I read that book in the 2nd grade and at that time decided I had foundI career path I wanted to take. I was going to grow up and become a sign languageteacher for the deaf. I learned the ASL alphabet and checked out some cool books inBraille and was satisfied knowing what I was going to do with my life. The other part Ihad decided as a young boy was I wanted to get married and have a large family.I informed my parents about my plans and continued holding on to them up until middleschool. It was then that the television shows Dallas and Dynasty became popular and myfamily watched them every week. I started watching them, saw how cool it looked beingincredibly wealthy and powerful and made up my mind that whatever it took I was goingto be wealthy beyond the likes of anyone in my family. I started acting as if the very bestwas all that I would accept, nothing less would do for me, which really grated on mymom. We weren’t wealthy or anywhere close, in fact we were below middle class. Mostall of our clothing came from either Kmart or Goodwill. Many times my mom and I buttedheads on what was acceptable for me to wear.During grade school and middle school, while having the desire to make it big I figuredacting was a good way to do this, I was pretty good at it and it was also a way for me tostep outside of who I was. I got involved in school plays as well as the yearly travelinggroup that put on plays at our school each year in the spring. In my head I figuredsomeone would see me, recognize my incredible talent and I would be on my way tostardom.In my family, college wasn’t really talked about. My dad had an 8th grade education, hewas highly intelligent and after dropping out had read set of encyclopedia’s anddictionaries and became self-taught on many things. My mom had taken some classesafter high school, but got married and took on the role of a full-time mom. As I wasgrowing up my family didn’t much about going to college to better ourselves. The clearmessages given to both my sister and I by our parents was they were not going to payfor us to go to school and they would not buy us a car once we started driving. Iremember most everyone I knew in school talking about going to college, gettingdegrees and making something of their life. Not having parents who really supportedthis, also meant we never really talked much about what I wanted to do and based oneverything else I had been through in my life up till then I knew I was on my own. Atsome point my parents both started telling me “If you want a big family, you bettermake sure you get a really good job, because your going to need it to afford a largefamily. My response to them was, well it isn’t just my responsibility my wife will work to.
 
In high school I was active in speech, debate and drama as well as a few school plays. Iremember the tv show LA Law started and I got hooked on it. I decided that I had abetter chance of making lots of money by becoming some type of power attorney andsending the bad guys to jail. I dreamed of a life being a corporate attorney that quicklymade my way to the top. My wife would be beautiful, we would always be dressed in thefinest clothing, our kids would attend the best schools, we would own a mansion Idesigned and built, a couple of expensive cars along with a limousine that transported useverywhere. I would be working, my wife would work and we would have all that weneeded and provide our children with the best money could buy. It was around that timethe movie “Wallstreet” came out and only fueled my fire for power and money. Duringmy junior year I was taking a life management class and we were asked to create a timeline for ourselves. In laying out my life and the goals I wanted to accomplish by certainages it helped me get serious about wanting to be a lawyer and I narrowed it down toeither practicing criminal or family law. I was planning on attending Gonzaga Universityin Spokane, to got to law school. I began filling out the forms, trying to find scholarshipsand do all that I could on my own to get there. Unfortunately my parents weren’t poorenough for me to get grants and in making it clear they weren’t paying for school,graduation was just around the corner and I was stuck, I didn’t know what I was going todo. The only thing I knew for sure was I was moving out from my parents and starting myown life.Shortly after graduation, I visited Spokane and attempted to get a job, actually I did geta job washing dishes in a restaurant, I ended up having a panic attack and left. Later thatnight I started really evaluating my life, I began crying and sobbing and realizing I had nofuture and things weren’t going to go as I had planned. This has been my chance to getout and I had blown it. I decided to head back home, get a job, move out and start onwith my life and hope that some parts of it would come together. So I headed back to myparents, got a job working in the men’s department at Sears and moved out on my own.I was happy for a short time, I had moved out, was working as much as I could andstarting my own life. I watched and listened to co-workers who were attending collegeand heard how much they enjoyed it and how they were following their dreams. I beganto long for more and wasn’t happy with my “independent life”. I still had an interest inthe law and began looking to see what I could do. My parents despite what they had toldme, bought me a 76 Honda Civic and were helping my sister go to college and decidedthey would help me. So we discovered there was a Paralegal Program being offered for 2years and I decided that I wanted to go for it. My parents paid for me to attend theprogram, which I did very well in. One of the teachers in the class had connections andgot me a job as Paralegal for a lawyer he knew. It ended up not working out and I wentback to retail. I was fortunate enough to get another full-time job working at a gasstation/convenience store through a family I knew. I was now working 2 full-time jobs,making more money then I ever had, but not really happy with my life. My goal was nowto try to find a job as a Paralegal, because of the small city I was in and not having a lotof secretarial skills I wasn’t having much luck. Now my goal became I getting out of thistown, start my life over whatever it takes.I thought about where I wanted to live and realized how much I had really enjoyedvisiting Portland, my aunt lived there, it was a big city and I could see myself living there.Since I was still working at Sears I found out I could transfer. I called up my aunt whoallowed me to live with her, transferred, said my goodbyes and headed out to Portland. I
 
remember driving out to Portland vividly and feeling a new sense of freedom and my lifewas really going to take shape now.I worked at Sears for a while, tried finding Paralegal jobs and not having much fun orsuccess at either. Someone recommended I use an agency to aid in finding a job. Ihadn’t head of them before, but I decided it was worth it. I used a couple different ones,took some tests and found that management would be a good fit for me. So I startedworking as a manager trainee at a shoe store. Not the ideal job, but it was a good start, Imoved out from my aunt’s place and in with someone I met through an ad in thenewspaper. I came to work one day to find out the shoe store had filed bankruptcy andwas going out of business. They wrote a glowing letter of recommendation for me, but Iwas out of a job and ended up getting a part-time job working in the children’sdepartment at Mervyn’s as well as obtaining a part-time job working as the fry cook atWendy’s.I began dating my wife at that time and in talking with her it really made me realize thatmy dream of being a paralegal just wasn’t in the cards but I did want to have a job thatwas Monday – Friday, 8 –5. I began really praying I would find something. A friend of oursworked with adults who were mentally retarded and developmentally disabled, she saidthey were looking for employees and I could go and talk to them and I probably could geta job. I kept brushing it off, and thinking no I can’t work with those “type of folks”. Finallyafter a few more conversations with her and realizing it was a Mon – Fri, 8 – 5 job, Idecided to give it a shot. I interviewed and got the job. I started out as a regular staff and within about 6 months got promoted to a manager. It certainly wasn’t easy in thebeginning being in management, but I feel like it was the right thing for me and itseemed like a good fit.In looking back at my life all those years ago, I didn’t have anyone one who spoke intomy life, saw areas of strength or encouraged me to go in a certain direction. I don’t knowwhere or what my life would look like today had that happened. It’s why I believe in thesignificance of mentorship at any age. I’m not bitter because of it, actually I am reallyvery happy with how my life has turned out and all the experiences that have shaped meinto the man I am today.As I have conversations with my kids and ask the question, “What do you want to bewhen you grow up?” I purposely listen to what they say, continually observe their actionsin various situations, and constantly promote what they want to do. There are times Iwish I had someone invested in my life the way I purposely do with my own children.. Atthis point in my life, I know what I am supposed to be, what I have been called to do,what my strengths and weaknesses are. I am fortunate to have a job where I get toutilize all of these things and more importantly that allows me to pour myself into eachone of my kids.What do you want to be when you grow up is a loaded question. There is still so much Iwant to be, I am capable of many things and have the drive and energy to get myself there. My goal is to help my kids not only figure out what they are really good at, butwhat they desire most in life and how to help maneuver the paths to get there. I stillhave lots of life left in me and there is a huge world out there to explore. I won’t beconfined by limitations, nor do I want my kids to live their life that way. One person canmake a difference in the world, I am making a huge difference in the life of my children,my wife and friends and family. I never expected to have half the jobs I have had, but it’s

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