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"What do you want to be when you grow up?" The question you are asked from around aged 5 by your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, god parents, family friends, and every nosey stranger from your hair dresser to the postman.
It doesn’t stop there. Oh no. As you grow older, it just gets worse. By the time you are in your teens you have so much pressure hanging over you it’s just one big panic attack waiting to happen. The expectation placed on us when we are younger is monumental, so what do we do? We rush, panic, and jump into the first career/subject that we think is the dream. (Even though this time the year before we wanted to be something entirely different.)
As a child I wanted to be a mountain climber, pianist, vet, ballet dancer, croupier... to name a few. I remember at the age of 7 being asked to write a detailed description of what I wanted to be, why I’d be good at it and how I intended to become it. 7 years old? Jesus, calm down please Mrs. Cable. Can’t I go outside and just be a child for a bit?
We are told that if, we go to school, then on again to college and university, that our lives are sorted out for us. Look no further, you have achieved the ultimate goal. Is it actually your ultimate goal? No, it’s someone else’s.
The famous quote, "Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid," sums it up pretty well in my mind. Just because your cousin is sat there with a law degree, working for their dream firm at the tender age of 22 doesn’t mean that you need to run outside and get yourself a "career." Take your time and go at your own pace.
Why the haste? What is this incessant need to have the rest of our life’s and careers sorted out by the time we are 25?
And why, oh why, are we told and assured that a career will define us and make us who we are meant to be? Some people find their true calling and love their chosen careers from the word go. Good on them! It doesn’t mean that’s for everyone.
What’s wrong with going on adventures and finding out who you are as a person? Absolutely nothing. That’s what. Why can’t we all just take a bit of a step back and a breather from pressurising ourselves? It takes time to grow, learn and be who and what you want to be. It is not something that can be conjured up over night.
It’s also alright if you’ve tried a few things that haven’t worked out for you, that’s not failure. You're putting yourself out there and giving something a go. Not for you? Who cares! You're working your way through the opportunities coming your way until you find the right one. Opportunities come in many shapes and sizes, it doesn’t have to be the conventional process that works for you.
In between travelling I have had a variety of career paths ranging from jobs, dreams, and courses I have started. I’ve been or aspired to be everything from an apprentice mechanic to a photographer. I even dabbled with the idea of being a dog masseuse.
I wanted to be them at the time, or did I? The reality for me was that, it made sense, I didn’t want to feel like I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I would sign up wholeheartedly for the first option that took my fancy. Did they work out? No. I would realise it wasn’t for me and try something else.
None of that time was wasted, however; I know now that they are not me and that has led me to where I am today.
I have just enrolled to start a part time degree, in a subject that I’d never thought of studying before, the course fits my lifestyle perfectly and I can’t believe I didn’t see it. It is because of the trial and error of careers, the cultural experiences and the fun I’ve had that have lead me here.
Relax, have fun and be yourself. Life is short, enjoy the unknown, embrace the joyful uncertainty in the mystery that is your future. And next time you are asked the dreaded question, stand proud and say:
"Do you know what Aunt Mable, I don’t know right now. And I’m good with that."
Be true to yourself and let your heart lead you somewhere exciting.
You never know where that might be.