I’m a baker. I have been for a while now. But I started schooling for a variety of different occupations. I began my college career as an aspiring social worker. After social work, I tried my hand at design and went to architecture school for a semester. Then when I heard that architects worked an 80 hour work week, I decided to try my hand at writing, and earned my degree in English with a communications minor. The plan was to become a newspaper writer. I hadn’t given the idea a lot of thought, otherwise I may have looked around and realized that maybe that wasn’t the most stable career choice. With newspapers becoming part of a bygone era, when I graduated I didn’t have a backup plan for what I’d do if my career of choice didn’t pan out.
In my defense, I didn’t have a lot of guidance. None actually. I was taking stabs in the dark at what I thought might bring me a sense of satisfaction. I realize now a lot of the choices I made were ways of keeping me locked in a trauma cycle. Reliving parts of my past, but that’s another story for another time. I still needed to find out how I was going to pay back the federal government for supporting me through my extended college years!
So I baked. It was easy because I was already doing it, and I was pretty good at it considering I had fallen into the job. What got me thinking about it is that I’ve been thinking about what I’ll be doing in the next five years and where I’d like to be in my career and also that I had to recertify for my “serve safe” certificate. I enjoy some aspects of baking, for example when you have a good bake, and the ears, those pockets of dough that rise up during the bake, leaving almost and elegant envelope of smartly creased crust, pop up all in a row down the length of the oven in a symmetrical pattern, it’s a good feeling.
But there are some aspects of the job that aren’t so pleasant as well. For instance, the Serve Safe certificate I had to recertify. In the online course I took, I never heard the term, fecal-oral route, used so many times in 8 hours. Then I was tested on it!
It’s situations like these that are the drive behind my wanting to change careers. And it’s not that I’m squeamish. I just don’t have the memories associated with baking that, I imagine most people do. I never watched my grandmother lovingly labor over baked goods. My grandmother was more the type to slam your thumb in the car door of an old Buick Regal at the tender age of 5.
Which brings me to my most current iteration of my career outlook. I’m planning on going back for social work. I know the pitfalls of growing up in a family that is unstable at best. I feel as though I may have some wisdom to impart and the ability to tolerate horrific stories, more than most. But to make it from bread baker, to social worker, it’s going to take some maneuvering.
When I was getting recertified for the serve safe certificate, I had to take an eight hour long course before I could take the test. I found myself getting a little restless. As though I deserved to be elsewhere, instead of stuck in front of a computer. I should be doing work that matters, but instead I heard the term, “fecal oral route” more times than I could count, and I just wanted to be done with the whole experience. Not just the test, but the early, cold mornings, the stressful environment, not getting any holidays off save for Christmas day, all of it. I was a little grumpy.
Then I took the test and got in the 95% and crossed the task off my todo list, brought the invoice into work to be reimbursed for, and told the GM I would give him a link to the site so we could get other employees trained. In short, I took care of myself, took stock of the small accomplishments I achieved along the way, and helped a few people in the process. It felt good to know that I could count on myself and achieve goals, no matter how small they may seem.
Because it’s in these moments, of understanding where you are, and what needs to be done to move yourself forward, that we build accountability to ourselves, knowing that we are the resource that is going to get us to where we want to be. I could have kept putting off taking the exam, but knowing that I will take care of business, no matter how unpleasant the task may seem, and move forward by accepting where I am and pushing through, makes me feel as though I’m capable of achieving greater things. And I feel that it’s this mind set that ultimately will guide us to the places we’d like to be, while navigating through the here and now.
This may seem common sense to most, and I honestly hope this is the case. But I’ve seen to many friends, people, loved ones, stall in their lives because they had no one model the mindset of accepting where they were by using wise discernment to devise a course of action and follow through with the plan. God knows the role-models I had all complained about how so and so was doing them wrong, or how unfair life is, rather than take some accountability for it (life). That said, when we’ve experienced abuse, it’s difficult to navigate the waters of accountability, and being in that category, I have empathy for those making an honest go of moving forward regardless of how difficult it gets. And it gets weird at times, that’s for sure!
And it may seem a little cheesy, but if you’re constantly wishing things were different, you may miss out on some of the tender moments along the way. I used to bake in Salem MA, so every Halloween, there would be swarms of people descending on the city. My shift was the 3-11pm bake shift, so at the end of the day, I’d be sitting in the bakery waiting for my loaves to finish in the oven, with the door cracked open to let the crisp autumn air in along with the sounds of merriment from the festivities happening around the city. Drunk people would stumble by, asking for bread, make-up smeared in unintended ways while struggling with gravity. It was nice. If I stopped to think about how I didn’t want to be there in the first place or all the negative things that happened during the day, I may have missed those relaxing moments, or how good my bake looked.
Never give up on your dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem, but don’t forget to make room for the present while you’re chasing after your goals, because that’s where life is ultimately lived. Accepting where you are leads to accountability, leads to trust, leads to ease, which leads to living in the present. Long story short, pay attention to your surroundings while you’re on your way and you may have some good stories to tell.
peace, and thanks for reading :]