Mulan is my favorite Disney princess because she is not a princess. When I was little my dad told the family he was like a king and proceeded to call my mom a queen, my brother a prince, and my sister a princess. He was about to tell me the same, when I asked him, “Wait, can I be a servant!” I really wanted to get paid, and I simply couldn’t imagine having to wear a puffy dress.
Years later, I still feel the same about corsets, but my career plans are a bit more fuzzy. Even decisions about a summer job seemed daunting. In a period of about three weeks, I applied for 8 jobs. I accepted two offers, turned some down, and took myself out of the running for one. Now, it seems as if it could have gone no other way, but this process was plagued by my indecisiveness.
While I was looking for jobs, I was also still focused on connecting. After a few months, I finally had a meeting set up with Karen Stoker. I had heard her speak at Concordia’s Women Entrepreneurship Day, and her words resonated with me. For weeks I tried to get her contact information. Since the college wouldn’t give me her information, I talked to people who knew her or her kids, and I felt like a complete stalker. Finally, I decided enough was enough. I knew she owned the Ho Do, so I dropped off a handwritten note. A few days later, she emailed me and we set up a time to get coffee.
When we finally met I was floored by Karen’s humility. I had waited so long to meet her that I was worried she wouldn’t meet my expectations, and she didn’t—she exceeded them. Instead of being some perfect plastic business woman, she was real. Multiple people stopped at the table, and she greeted each of them with genuine kindness. As she told my about her career path, I was struck by her honesty, and her humor was just a bonus. After talking with her for only an hour or so, I felt like I had known her for years. I respected her opinion, and I asked her advice about my summer plans.
Instead of giving me an answer, she simply told me a rule she lives by, “the eighty-year old rule.” She tries to do things she would look back on from her rocker some day and not regret. I took this and ran with it. Instead of applying for an internship, I took a job as a canoe guide.
Karen Stoker taught me a valuable lesson. Just a short conversation with her helped me realize I didn’t want to live a perfect life, I want to live a real one. Instead of worrying about making the right decision, I want to embrace my inner Mulan.
Written By: Career Peer Ahna
Let us know what you think: What have you learned from your role models? How do you decide what job opportunities to pursue? Do you embrace your inner Mulan?