If you’d asked me 10 years ago, “Hey, Alison (no one called me Ali then), where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I could have answered you pretty matter-of-factly.
“I’ll be living in New York City, working as an editor at Dance Spirit magazine! I’ll be in a happy relationship with a guy who knows how to cook, and I’ll take dance classes in the city all the time!”
Swap out dance classes for running laps in Central Park, and I may as well have been a psychic.
At the ripe age of 17, I had it all figured out.
I had my dreams and my goals firmly solidified and I took all the necessary steps to reach them. I went to college to major in journalism and became captain of the university’s competitive dance team. I carefully crafted my academic course load and extracurricular activities to meet what I anticipated were the needs of Dance Spirit. I applied (totally blindly, actually — I emailed someone in sales because it was the only contact information I could find online) for an internship at DS, managed to get hired and spent a summer commuting from my university in Connecticut to what I hoped would be my future home: NYC.
I loved that internship so much, and I made sure the people there loved me back. I worked my butt off and I was constantly pitching stories, crafting new ideas and trying to be innovative, even if some of my “brilliant ideas” were so far-reaching they could never work.
I dreamed big.
When my internship ended, I stayed in touch with the editors I worked with. As I wrapped up my senior year (also known as the year I spent waitressing, drinking and powering through classes hungover), I did a few freelance articles for Dance Spirit. And the day I graduated, I made sure they knew I was ready for hire.
It took a “frustrating” three and a half months after I graduated for a position to open up at Dance Spirit. I remember thinking I’d never ever ever find a job. But I got a call one day from the editorial director at DanceMedia, the company that owns Dance Spirit, saying they were creating a new position for a web editor (that was a “new thing” in 2007) and wanted me to come in and interview for it.
I took the train to the city, interviewed with three different people and was offered the job. I didn’t care that the salary would mean I’d have to starve and possibly live in a gutter for a while. I was making my dreams come true.
My growth at Dance Spirit was something of a miracle. I transitioned from web editor, where I worked on seven of the company’s publications (including American Cheerleader — loved it), into a fulltime associate editor position working only on Dance Spirit.
My titles changed — deputy editor, deputy editor in chief and now editor in chief — and my responsibilities were constantly growing.
And outside the office, life stayed exciting, too.
I started running soon after I moved to the city, and discovered the fitness industry and the racing world. I got hooked quickly, as I tend to do with things, and made lots of friends that way.
My little life in New York City was turning out exactly as I’d always hoped.
Somewhere along the way, though, I think I stopped dreaming so big.
I got content. I got comfortable.
So I stopped looking so far into the future.
Now, I don’t know what I want next. I don’t even know which race to register for, let alone where I want to raise children in the I-don’t-know-when future.
Things aren’t perfect. They’ll never be perfect. I guess I’m part content, part “I have no idea what to do next.” A little lost, but a little OK with it?
Ten years ago, not having a plan would have driven me crazy. I needed big goals, big dreams and high hopes.
I don’t have a plan at all. And that’s fine.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS? Do you have it all figured out, or are you as lost and clueless as I am?