When I was getting ready to go to college in 1996, that was the big interview question we couldn’t wait to be asked from a potential employer. We had whole sessions about the appropriate answers to give, interview gems and catch phrases that would wow the interviewer and land you the job. Yep, that was during the boom years of the Clinton presidency. I fully expected to get a job earning $45-50K, right out of college, with little more than a bachelor’s degree, as my predecessors had done. Most likely living it up in some fast paced cosmopolitan metropolis with my equally cosmopolitan friends. I had lofty goals in those days. I’d be a svelte size 10, with a weave down to my butt, driving a red Mercedes Benz convertible. 10 years after graduation I’d be in Ghana as the head of my own media company. I couldn’t wait to hit the real world!
Fast forward 10 years later.
I don’t even think most corporations ask the question “Where do you see yourself if 5/10 years” anymore. Most Fortune 5000 companies’ balance sheets are riddled with more holes than a pitted pomegranate. Many of them don’t know if they will be in business next MONTH. The dot com bubble burst, making paupers out of millionaires overnight; Al-Qaeda decimated the stock market when they took down the WTC; and the freaking Pirates in Somalia and Nigeria finished up the job by affecting oil supply and jacking up prices. No one saw this coming. And I certainly didn’t foresee myself where I am today, either.
Nearly 10 years after graduation, I am a tired mother of three. I have an afro puff and am a hefty size 18. It has taken me 6 hours to sit down and write this note, because I can’t get a private moment to myself. Even now, someone screams “Mommeeee!!” incessantly in the background. My lofty goals of media domination have been reduced to just being happy if I can crank out one good story for my online newspaper sometime during the week. I pray daily that readers will find it in their hearts to click on a few ads to beef up my Google AdSense and generate some revenue. No one is on my payroll. In fact, I am vulnerable to the whims of the federal government, who at any time can stop my unemployment payments and leave me gobsmacked and one check away from homelessness.
What is the point of this drivel? It’s to ask myself again, where do I see myself in five years: As one of the happiest frikkin’ women on earth, that’s what.
If 5 years, my oldest child will be 10, able to do laundry and make a mean pitcher of Kool-Aid. The second born will be 8 and able to read a book to HERSELF. Both will be in school all day. The youngest will just be beginning kindergarten and I can feign the sort of sadness at his departure that makes your kids TRULY believe that you “wish they could stay at home with you all day, you really do, but the system won’t allow them to.”
In short, I’ll be a free woman. Free to write, free to think, free to go number 2 without someone bursting through the door and standing between my legs while I try to deliver a sinful payload to the porcelain throne below. Free to dream again.
Ms. Celie couldn’t have said it better: I may be black, skinny (hopefully), and ugly (most likely), but dear God, I’ll be here…and FREE!