Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When I grow up...

At thirteen I wanted to be a clown and travel with the circus. I was determined to attend Clown College. By sixteen I was looking at a vet school – except I nearly failed Chemistry (much like Brie of Pixie Chicks). So plans changed again. One teacher wanted me to go into journalism (far, far from the chemistry lab). Others urged me toward sports medicine.

At thirteen my daughter became part of a 'career focused' school program. This program means a special standardized test in which personality traits, inherent skills and general interests are all stirred up and the result reveals the best slice of the career pie chart. Good plan, very informative test – but it means she has to declare a major - in high school - ack!

While my daughter discovered a slice of career pie in line with her strengths, she has friends who are very talented in the arts who were told (at thirteen) to give up their dreams and choose something 'practical'. How heartbreaking! Our dreams often point toward the best outlet of our strengths!

I'm not saying you don't need to find a paying gig so you can live independent of meatloaf night at mom's house, but being uniquely YOU isn't a curse. Being an author is cool, but not always 'practical'. It took me a long time to accept that words are my biggest strength and then mold that strength into a career.

As a mom, I think I've managed to combine clowning with basic medicine and a little kitchen chemistry. Whatever you want to be at thirteen, it might not be exactly what you become when you grow up. Then again, it might just be the springboard to the best YOU ever!

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Mary Cunningham said...

Great post, Regan.

You really hit on something. We don't always know what we want to be "when we grow up."

It took me almost 40 years to figure it out! So, never give up on your dream, and don't feel guilty if that dream changes throughout your life!

©DGreer said...

My passions ran to art and writing early on, but I was encouraged down a practical road by my mother. So I studied business and accounting with the intent of becoming a CPA and within a semester of graduating and sitting for the boards, I totally bailed out! I was so miserable. I then followed my heart, went back to art school, married an artist, owned several galleries, and made a living as a professional artist for 20 years. My husband has done that from the day he left high school. So it is totally possible to do your true life's work. And you can even change your mind, as I am doing now with writing and illustrating books, rather than just straight art commissions. Go where your talents and interests lead you, and you'll never have "just a job" to deal with day in and day out. It may not be easy to follow your dream, and it will still take hard work some days, but you'll be a lot happier.

One last bit of advice - don't let the modern temptation of "more money" suck you into doing work you hate. It is SO not worth it.


Regan Black said...

Too true, Mary and Dani!


Evelyn Van Til, CEC said...

Very nicely put. all of it.

I've worked with so many people who set up their life based on "have to" do this career, make money, or complete a degree. often they fail at it. more often they FEEL like like they failed at it, even if the external measurements reflect good grades, higher paycheck, more responsibility.

so, what if happiness is about finding ways to practice our purpose with passion? not finding one thing for the rest of our lives, but about growing? learning? loving?

Bibliolatrist said...

I agree with many of your comments. Working without having passion for the job is soul-crushing. It's horrible going to work every day, dreading your arrival and the following hours of drudgery. I've been there, and I was miserable all the time.

The best advice I can give is to do what you enjoy - don't worry about the paycheck, the practicality, or what others say. As long as you enjoy what you do, the rest of it will fall into place.

Mandee said...

When I was 5, I wanted to be a tight rope walker in a circus. At 13, I wanted to go to college and major in equestrian studies. At 16, I wanted to take up music studies and become a pop star. At 17, well...I didn't know WHAT I wanted anymore. At 18, I noticed my writing talents were becoming useful and considered a major in journalism. At 19, I wanted to go into public relations and/or the marketing field.

I am now 20, and I train horses, I play music as a hobby, and I'm editor-in-chief of new horse magazine, Bit & Bridle. I am writing my first book and plan to have it published within a year or so - maybe then even going on a book tour. In a recentl interview by a local newspaper, I was asked what I would say to other young people about what I do. My suggestion was this: if you have a dream, pursue it. It's not always easy, but don't give up! If you have a talent, use it, don't let it sit dormant. Do what you love and teach others how to do the same. For me, my two goals in life are to love God, and love people. I have a heart to encourage others and I sooo enjoy seeing young people break out of their box. :) I love what I do, and even though the hard days come, it's worth every bit.


Mary Cunningham said...

Sounds like you have a good handle on your dream, Mandee!

Iris said...

Here's the worst part about my friend being told her dream of becoming an artist was impractical... The next year she went in saying she wanted to become a surgeon and they told her that she simply didn't "stand-out enough" in her science classes for that to be a "viable option as a career." Hello! At that point, she had another 8 years before college graduation! That's equivalent to a minimum of about 8 more science classes for her to stand-out in prior to Med school.

The system definitely has its flaws...

Heather said...

Declaring a major in high school? That's too young, especially when the vast majority of college students change their major *at least* seven times!

Whatever the case, I always tell people to "do what they feel driven to do, not what other people say they should do." If you're doing what you want to do, you'll find a way to make it work. And my great-grandfather always said:

"If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life."

Many of my teachers and mentors wanted me to become a teacher. But partway through my education core in college, I found out I'm the wrong personality type for it. Then, on a recommendation from one of my professors, I changed to English Lit, and immediately felt *home.* Never looked back. I now write short stories and short novels at night, and during the day I work in the most wonderful little library out there, where I get to do a little teaching, a little sleuthing, and lots of learning.

If you have a dream that you really believe in, go for it, without regard to what others say.

John said...

It happens with most of us. In fact, it happens with me. As a child, I want to be cricketer. I played at club level. But in the end, I end up with web development as my career. In between, I also tried different career options. It is really an amazing journey.