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  • Writer's pictureKarla Ray

Re-Building Barbie's Dream House

When did it end? All the enjoyment.



If you haven’t been living under a rock or avoiding social media this summer, you’ve no doubt seen all the hype around the Barbie movie, and likely seen Reels or TikTok videos with splashes of pink to the upbeat sounds of the soundtrack (or the satire posts about how the men in our lives are just ‘Kenough’ set to a quite catchy reprise of one of Matchbox 20’s greatest hits... as evidenced by the throwback photo above, he's always been Just Ken). Most of these clips are fun to watch, and the choreography that looks so simple would take me days to learn, but the posts hitting me in the feels the most are those set to Billie Eilish’s haunting voice on What Was I Made For?


Looked so alive, turns out I’m not real.

Just something you paid for.

What was I made for?


Though I’m a few weeks late to tackle this topic in terms of the never-ending cycle of what’s hot on social media, it took me some time to digest how I was feeling about Barbie. How could I, a grown woman… a wife, mother, news anchor, be so impacted by a movie about a toy? One I haven’t thought of in decades? Well, simply put, it made me reflect on the same question Billie asked—What Was I Made For?


What analysts have called the Great Resignation, to me, has looked more like the Great Reinvention. In the last two years, as industries have changed and the gig economy picked up, I’ve watched my network of friends and family flip the script on their destinies. Some- scratch that- MANY have walked away from their careers in television after decades of climbing from market to market, in favor of charting their own path in the new media landscape… but it’s not just the news industry. I watched one of the most talented designers I know leave one of the most notable brands to launch her own, and a lifelong friend walk away from a top hospital job with the most medically complex cases in her specialty for summers off with her kids and a less stressful school setting. Another dear girlfriend is planning her exit strategy from being a full-time PTto focus on growing her side hustle into her main bread and butter; a new advisor launched her own consulting firm after more than a decade of growing government contacts while working for other people; and yet another friend is planning to walk away from a successful brick and mortar business for something new by the new year.


Whether it’s the unrest of approaching middle age or a search for self-actualization, it seems everyone in my circle is feeling the urge- and taking the leap- to pursue passions instead of promised paychecks. And they’re far from alone. GoDaddy started studying the phenomenon of microbusinesses in its Venture Forward project just before the pandemic, and found evidence of massive growth of entrepreneurship based on the number of unique domain names launched for the smallest of businesses, almost all with fewer than ten employees (95%), and most with just one. And though instinct may suggest that of the 30% of those microbusinesses that were born post-pandemic were created due to necessity (read: people losing their jobs due to shutdowns and closures), GoDaddy’s data found that a whopping 83% of microbusiness owners are running their own show due to opportunity, rather than necessity.


Opportunity breeds optimism. GoDaddy found that for all microbusiness entrepreneurs, confidence in their own endeavors is growing, while confidence in the overall economy has gone down. I can feel that optimism when I talk to my girlfriends who are helping to make up those statistics; they feel confident in what they’re doing. In the work. In themselves. And though I think autonomy and the feeling of achievement is hard to beat when you launch your own business, I think what’s fueling the surge we’re seeing now is bigger than that. It’s about getting back to the storylines we created in our minds when we played with Barbies- the dream lives built in our imaginations, based on our hobbies and what we enjoyed rather than what was expected of us. This new wave of entrepreneurs is leaning in, and answering, the question-- What Was I Made For?


And that leads me here, in an existential state of self-reflection. I am grateful to say that after all this time, I still love what I do for work. It’s all I ever wanted to do, to write professionally.


But.

I used to write for fun.

I used to create storylines in my mind.

Poems- plays- short stories- even songs.

Too many ideas for novels to count.


When did it end? All the enjoyment? When my passion for writing became my profession, I stopped pursuing the playful part of it. As an investigative reporter, I now tell some of the most detailed, delicate, data-driven stories… sitting with people from all walks of life who have entrusted me to push for answers on their behalf in what’s often their darkest moment. There is joy in that responsibility, and I don’t take it for granted, but… I used to write for fun.


The idea of this blog is to go Beyond The A-Block- and beyond the newsroom, even- as a commitment to myself to get back to the girl I was when my Barbie collection was at its peak; the girl who filled dozens of notebooks with inspiration only from her imagination and did so just for fun. I want to tell these stories, in addition to those I tell for work. And I hope to start with those who are living out the dreams they had when they were little... dreams they may have pushed away for a more practical path for years... but are getting back to what it is they're made for. If this is you, I'd love to help tell your story.


It’s Something I’m Made For.


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