Name: Erika

Vocation: Mom mostly. Sometimes Substitute teacher. Wanna be blogger and web designer.  

Location: St Louis area

1. What do you currently do now and how did you end up here? Any pit stops along the way and did those pit stops help you get to the career and woman you are now?

Right now I am primarily working on launching my first ever blog. It is all new and scary and exciting! It is a lot more work than I expected-- but I am loving learning the ropes! 

I kind of feel like most of my life has been pit stops. I got pregnant and married young. I worked here and there throughout my pregnancy and while my daughter was little. I have been everything from a veterinary assistant to a high school cheer coach. When my daughter was 2 we moved from my home state of California to my husband’s home state of Missouri. He grew up in a small town (we’re talking a population of 150, folks) and the transition was rough. I worked for a chiropractor and at a Crisis Nursery, went back to school, and had our second daughter.

I feel like I have spent a lot of time waiting for my life to start— for some reason I have never felt like, “oh, THIS is what I am supposed to be doing.”

Though I had a clear plan of what I wanted to do after graduating, another moved changed my plans. Here in St Louis I have worked within the school system as a Classroom Assistant and a substitute teacher. I have lived a lot of years in a kind of “waiting” state. I feel like I have spent a lot of time waiting for my life to start-- for some reason I have never felt like, “oh, THIS is what I am supposed to be doing.” I hate that I have felt that way, because I feel like I haven’t appreciated where I have been because I was always undervaluing it as a “pit stop” and nothing more. But, my pit stops have definitely made me well rounded-- I almost feel like a Jill-of-all-trades! I still struggle with restlessness and a desire to DO something. My current interest in writing, web design, and photography will hopefully lead to a something that I can do with passion and zeal for a long long time.

2. What are your current gaps, barriers, facilitators, or motivators? Any of those in particular that helped you along the way?

It’s interesting, really. What is this drive to have a title? And not just any title. A title that I can announce with pride.

I think, besides the totally true yet devastatingly cliche “It’s all for my children,” a huge motivator for me has been that restlessness-- that need to feel like I have contributed something. Working at the Crisis Nursery really spoiled me. Now when I look at job openings I am no longer satisfied to apply for just a JOB; I want to work somewhere where I can feel like I DID something at the end of the day. I have never had a career, and a huge part of me feels like that is just unacceptable. It’s interesting, really. What is this drive to have a title? And not just any title. A title that I can announce with pride. The goal for my blog is to create something I can be proud of, and to learn new skills along the way that I can use to help others.

Back to the kiddos for a moment-- they are also a huge motivator. I want to be a role model to them-- an example they can look to and say, “She wanted to, she thought she could, so she did. And so can I.” I am haunted by the idea that I haven’t been that for them yet.

3. What is your ideal state / dream state of being as a woman in your career and a woman in this world? How will you get there?

I imagine big things. But I am learning I will have to start small. Like, by actually telling people about my website :)

I love this question! When I daydream-- and I can get pretty carried away-- I imagine my site as a platform through which women can find inspiration and empowerment. I imagine a community of women who lift each other up and stand together for their common good. I imagine women of all colors, shapes, and creeds coming together to remind the world that it is possible to move past our differences and work together. I imagine making an impact and giving girls a voice who might otherwise not have had one. Also, I would love to be able to learn more about web and graphic design so I can help small businesses and non-profits build and grow their online presence. I imagine big things. But I am learning I will have to start small. Like, by actually telling people about my website :)

4. What common misconceptions do you find about your field, your life, about women in general?

(These are totally general beefs I have with the way women in general tend to be understood)

The more I look for misconceptions about women in general, the more I seem to find them. One superficial misconception that I particularly hate is the idea of “natural beauty.” Companies are pushing these products on us under the guise of making us look great without looking like we are using products. This was a huge trend when I was in middle and high school, and I remember the frustration of needing to wear make-up in such a way as to look like I wasn’t wearing make-up. I think that ideas like “I woke up like this” has perpetuated the misconception that you should be able to look amazing without having to try.

I also am irked by the double standards that are just everywhere. I don’t even have to list them because you all know exactly what I am talking about. I try to point these out to my girls wherever they pop up. One such (unexpected) place has been on the show Survivor. Recently, my family and I have been binge watching it on HULU, and it never ceases to amaze me-- the outspoken, loud, or “bossy” women are voted off almost immediately. Whereas the outspoken, loud, and downright abrasive men are kept on until the end. I find myself constantly commenting on this to my girls, just so they see it. Because I think we often don’t even realize that we hold these double standards.

5. Any advice or tips & tricks you want to give to a younger you? Whether it be how to apt hunt on craigslist to getting your shoes cobbled to getting a work mentor etc.

I would tell myself to get out of my head. And out of my way.

Oh, me. I would tell myself to get out of my head. And out of my way. And to figure out a bit more about who and what I was before I plunged head first into a world that will not hesitate to figure those things out for you, with or without your input. And also to never live too far from a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf ...or an IN-N-OUT.

BONUS QUESTION: What should lead your life: passion or pragmatism? (general thoughts, could be a convergence, could be one or the other!)

Ah! Timeless question! I studied something I was passionate about in school. I had a plan to use that degree, but life happens and plans change. Now I am stuck with debt for a degree I cannot use. So, though I want to say passion all the way, you have to be pragmatic as well. I will encourage my girls to pursue something that can hold their interest, but will pay the bills. THEN, on the side, pursue a passion. There has to be some passion in there. Because no one ever looked back and thought, ‘Gee I wish I would have done more of what I didn’t love.’ But sometimes doing something you don’t love, but can at least stand, for a time will enable you to do more of what you do love down the road. Also, we shouldn’t discount the possibility to inject your passion into your pragmatic path.

 

 



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