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Peel the Onion

Lisa Palanca - KzooConnect


Changes in outlook.

New frontiers.

The one thing we are guaranteed as human beings is that if we wait long enough, things will change.

In 1975, I began an adventure to attend Western Michigan University. I had other choices and was accepted to other schools, but there seemed to be a legacy here.

My mother and dad were Broncos. They spoke highly of the place. It wasn't too far, but far enough. I already had Bronco sweatshirts.

I faced the frontier that all high school seniors face. I remember having no idea what I wanted to do. I had gotten good grades. National Honor Society, Key Club, Top Ten, Student Athlete, and a pipeline of funding should have been benefits. But they were not. They didn't specifically drop a job path in my lap.

I had to make a choice. I closed my eyes and picked.


I chose Physical Ed./Recreation. These were the days when Leisure Activities were highlighted. Boy, was I going to have a blast!

But there was a glut on the teacher market the year I got out in 1979. I had to piece together a few jobs to make my rent. I had applied and been rejected 100+ times. It was a real blow to my ego. There just were not enough teaching jobs.

The funny thing is, if I hadn't been unintentionally "wait-listed" by the lack of teaching jobs, I never would have made forays into business, secretarial, and service jobs. I began building a repertoire that was to provide me with depth I would not otherwise have had a chance to participate in.

Life experiences.

What makes you who you are, is often not found in a classroom. Learning to be part of a team. Figuring out what stuff is too small to worry about, or too large to not comment on. Teamwork, leadership, responsibility are all learned when we least expect it.

When students are wondering, agonizing, and searching for that perfect job opportunity, I often tell them, start with square one. Nothing is too small to put in your personal toolkit. Get the experience that you need and build. Build yourself a background.

While the more things change, the more they stay the same, you will find that as you build, you are becoming closer to your truer YOU. You are peeling off the things that you might not care as much for while being naturally attracted to those things that, if given a chance, become the core of your life for a while.

The key is to take some chances with things you aren't sure of. Don't rule things out because you feel like they are lame. There are depth and character in all types of jobs. It happens all the time.

I have a friend who has a family member that began working as a driver for UPS. He may not have loved this part of the job, but stuck with it, got interested in management, and became a leading director of the company. I am sure you know that Oprah was not hired for her first TV news job. Or that Barack Obama began work in an ice cream shop. Or that Walt Disney's ideas for movies and Disneyland were considered unacceptable.

Yet, they kept their outlook positive and worked to gather experience.

It is all about how we navigate them.

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