Monday, March 30, 2009

When I Grow Up

Pipsqueak asked me this morning, "When I know what I want to be when I grow up, who do I tell?" I managed not to laugh, and I explained how she would study in college to be what she wanted, and once she had her degree, she would look for a job. If only it was that simple. It got me reflecting on my own history of choices in profession and how it all worked out.

When I was six (her age). I wanted to be a dental assistant because I had a crush on a boy who said he wanted to be a dentist. I thought that would be cozy, the two of us working side by side. That lasted a few years until I started noticing other boys and mined my own interests. Then I decided I wanted to be an actress, and I had a plan. I was going to buy a van and drive to California. Once there I would attend Pepperdine University because "Battle of the Network Stars" was filmed there. (OK, stop laughing; I was young, delusional and highly influence by television.) In high school, I realized acting was a cutthroat competitive business, and I got bitten by the writing bug, so journalism became my choice. Here's where it gets complicated.

I was a good student, in the top ten percent of the class. I was accepted at every college to which I applied, but due to confusion in my personal life, self-doubt and financial fears, I didn't go. Where was my guidance counselor?! I don't remember who it was or even talking to one. My mom didn't finish high school, so she had no expectations, and didn't question my decision... or should I call it indecision.

After graduation, I got a job as a bank teller and later advanced to customer service, but it wasn't particularly challenging or creative work. After six years, I'd had enough, and got a job at a road construction company counting rocks. Well, that's the simple explanation of what I did... briefly, until I was laid off. One of the officers there told me about an attorney he knew that was looking for a secretary. Long story short, I was hired, loved the work, and took online courses to get an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies. I worked there for eleven years, until I had Pipsqueak. Being a paralegal allowed me to exercise my writing muscle (even though it was filled with "therefores" and "wheretos").

What a windy road to get where I am with so many intersections along the way that could have taken me in many different directions. Do I have regrets? No, because a different road would have taken me away from where I am now, I wouldn't have met Sweetie (who I met at that law office when he came to work on our computers) and I wouldn't have Pipsqueak. I still feel like I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do. For me, it's a never ending journey. I sometimes envy those that knew early on what they wanted to do and found out it was a perfect fit. A friend of mine told me in seventh grade that he wanted to be a doctor, and he's an OB/GYN.

I hope Pipsqueak's road will be more clear and less bumpy than mine. We'll make sure she has all the encouragement and guidance that she needs.


Tammie said...

i loved reading this. i have no idea what i want to be when i grow up. if pip decides before me, im gonna be mad. :)

i never went to college and i so wish i could have. i did well in school too and loved to learn, but it just never seemed like an option for me. at the time i was graduating high school, my parents were going through a lot of personal stuff and i had to work.

sometimes i dream of going back to school when the kids are a bit older and im not needed as much around here....the idea is scary though.

Clare said...

What an enjoyable read. When I was little, I wanted to be a vet. I was great at Biology but Physics was not my strong point and I need to ace that before moving on. Oh well. I made up for it by taking in as many stray cats as I could and rehabilitating them!

I ended up as an office manager for my husbands company. Its a cushy number.....sometimes

Anonymous said...

Oh B, you give me great comfort. There are so many of us who didn't follow that straight line they all promised would take us directly to fame, fortune, and happiness. But when I see people doing some of the things I once dreamt of and being miserable in it, I am comforted by my choice to take another direction.

I still have a hard time imagining Tim as an OB/GYN...

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