What If?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a very fun ASPCA event on Capitol Hill to raise awareness about adopting and animal rescue. The event, Paws for Celebration, brought together shelters and rescue groups from around the DC area to gather in the House of Representatives’ Canon House Office Building and meet with lawmakers during the lunch hour. It was fun, it was festive and it was a feel-good event for a good cause.


I’ve done my fair share of tabling and adoption events, but this one was a bit different. As the event got started, the room was suddenly full of hundreds of good looking, well dressed and nicely groomed (no pun intended) men and women. Most of them were in business suits or nice dresses and high heels. Then there were the shelters and rescue groups, most of us in polos or t-shirts. The difference between the two groups on a superficial level was stark – it was very interesting to be blending worlds.

I briefly envied the girls who got to wear fancy clothes and nice jewelry to their jobs. I wondered what it was like to have a job like that; a government job, where you worked in the city with important people and did important things. I thought about what their salaries might be, not working for a non-profit, and how, even at our age, they can probably afford things like going to happy hour after work or taking spontaneous trips and not having to freak out about expenses. My mind started to wander to “what if I’d picked a different major in college, and worked as hard as I did in my Animal Science degree in another field, like business… then I could wear all the high heels I want and afford the fancy clothes and nice dinners and I could do animal welfare stuff as a hobby and not a full time, emotionally taxing career.”

But then I looked at the two little adoptable cuties we had brought with us, and without thinking I rewarded them both for bringing their attention to me because I knew that would help them continue their calm behavior – and that was the moment I remembered how easy this comes to me and how blessed I am to be working and getting paid doing something I absolutely love. Sure, my work outfit usually consists of flats and I have to skip the social dinner outings most of the time – but I have been given more opportunities to pursue what I love in the short two years I’ve been working than most people get in their lifetime. I am lucky beyond words – and I am happy to lead a career where I am the one wearing the polo shirt, not the business suits.