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.