March 22, 2010

What's My Stake?

For the past three years, I have worked in the "corporate" world. Blerg. One of the terms that is often bandied in this place is "stakeholder." Essentially, the marketing endgame in the business world is to determine your stakeholders, find out what gets them excited, and sell that to them. Boom! You're done. Maybe there's more, but my interest stops there.

However, I got to thinking. A "stakeholder" is really just a gussied up term for someone who is passionate about something, or at the very least, cares a modicum about something. So then, for what I am a stakeholder? What are my passions? Honestly and sadly, I don't think about this often enough. And my mom is always asking me this question: What are your passions? It's a good question, mother.

In a separate conversation yesterday with my friend Emily, we discussed how society tells us what we "should" have versus what we actually have/want to have. If we're single, we should be dating. If we are dating, then we should get engaged. If we are engaged, then we should be planning a wedding to beat My Best Friend's Wedding. If we are married, we should have kids, etc. If we have a family, we should balance both career and family. Jessie of 20-Nothing's post on redefining a career woman discusses how she would choose career aspirations over a man who would make her choose between him and her career. Men in her post come off as being pretty black and white, and I am thinking that there are some guys out there who wouldn't make a woman choose. Those are the worthwhile ones. They make the true partners.

The buffet of "shoulds" we are fed in life never ends. I'm trying to remember the first time I genuinely thought about my wedding, probably around age fourteen when I saw Father of the Bride for the first time. I saw Annie Banks as "having it all," with her loving family, her career as an architect, married to a dashing businessman, the ideal wedding, and then the perfect little baby boy. That movie franchise represented the larger cultural expectations I think many of us face as women. And I've bought into it - started dreaming up what my wedding might look like, what I would do for a career, what charming man I might marry, and the cute kids we would have. But much of this is not real. Something we all know. But not something that we all believe.

Lately I am wondering whether any of the marriage/husband/kids package will actually happen. And do I even want all that? Sometimes I am not so sure. I am sure that I don't want to be fixated on just one set of things, especially material things. Dreams are all well and good, but dreams should be of my own making and not some expectations generated by the cultural machine. Do you ever feel like you are on this treadmill/timeline, one that doesn't really fit who you are?

Things will happen, for the good and for the bad, in their own time. I know this to be truth. But in practice, it's not always easy to accept that truth.

Right now I am just on the edge of feeling liberated from thinking that I should have certain things, that I should look a certain way, that I should have a certain type of personality. I feel like I have been living fake for a while now. Worried so much about what others think of me. Enough is enough.

Clearing away all that junk, I am a stakeholder of many things that I have either been afraid to want or was to distracted to know I wanted.

If I say them out loud and write them in this post, it makes them more real to me. It means I have to work towards them.

I want to be a writer. I started out with that idea in college and then somehow lost it. I want to write the kind of pieces that inform the public about stories that might otherwise go unnoticed by the mass media (think NPR's The Story with Dick Gordon - AMAZING). I believe in the power of fair and balanced journalism (yes, "fair and balanced" comes from the mantra of NPR and yes, a dream job has always been to work for NPR). I am a stakeholder in trying to find something as close to the truth as possible and presenting the facts to a wider audience. If we can educate the public on key issues, I think we can build a better society.

I want to be involved in international politics. My favorite course in college was Islamic Women's Writing. It opened my eyes to a vast, vibrant world and prompted me to minor in International Studies and learn the Arabic language (of which currently I have mostly and sadly forgotten). Fear, ignorance, and indifference prevent millions from appreciating all that the Muslim world has to offer. It is really so incredible. I wish to re-immerse myself in the Arabic language and the international political stage. I also love the idea of the United Nations - it has so much potential to be a incredible organization (if only certain countries would pay their dues on time and give fair play to other nations - *ahem* USA).

I want to be more creative. My current career track has an incredible gaping hole where my creativity once resided. Corporate life doesn't really allow for much of that - to its detriment, in my opinion. This blog has really re-inspired my creative self. But I want more. I want to learn about web and graphic design so that I can take this space in new directions of my own devices.

I want to have influence. Does this mean I have a power trip? No. This ties together all the items above because it means that I am using them to ideally make something good, something positive, maybe even something better than before. And something that is wholly outside myself - in the world. I would be affirming my "power," i.e. that place within yourself that you always want to change but which is really the most valuable thing about you.

I am thankful for the luxury to have the time and the space to consider where I stake my passions. We live in an extraordinary time of consciousness and opportunity. It's time that I started capitalizing on that opportunity to better myself and hopefully the world around me.

So now I ask you: what's your stake?


  1. You need to print out this post and tape it to the wall next to your bed, so that every morning you can see it and know that you are capable of ALL OF IT. I can't wait to see where this life takes you :)

  2. I can't wait to see where life take you either! These are all such admirable goals and I'm sure if you set your mind to them you'll find great success. How cool would it be to write for NPR??? Ahhh, you would be my idol. You go girl! XO Katie

  3. This is awesome that you have such direction. You already know what you want; now all you have to do is get it! It also helps that you're already a brilliant writer!! You will have all of these things! xoxo

  4. Every woman should be having this conversation with herself because, like you said, we are put on the treadmill of wants from the very beginning. I dreamed up my wedding too when I was a little girl (damn that Cinderella), and now, at 23, I know I don't want a wedding. But if someone tried to tell me I couldn't have one, I think that little girl inside me would pitch a fit.

    So much to be sorted out, and you've really inspired me to do it. But just some notes now on your prompt: I want to be a novelist, I want to have children (and not necessarily a husband), I want to be creative each day, I want to inspire other women.

    So glad I read this :)


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