When I was growing up I spent a lot of time trying to decide what I wanted to “be” when I finally did “grow up.” At age 5 I wanted to be one of Charlies Angels or an Olympic ice skater/gymnast (Romanian gymnast to be more specific). In elementary school I wanted to be a veterinarian and own my own horse ranch. In 6th grade I took a summer school class about computers (think Commodore 64 and BASIC) and my mom told me if I was interested in computers that would be a really great career by the time I graduated and went to college. HA! what did she know? In middle school my mom convinced me to write to IU and ask what requirements would be necessary to become a physical therapist because I showed interest in medical stuff but did not desire to spend 8 years in college to become a doctor. That brings us to high school where I became interested in journalism.
My plans my junior and senior year involved going to college and study telecommunications (why limit myself to just paper journalism). At one time I think I actually thought about working my way to White House Correspondent. I was even on the Indiana High School Journalism board. Those plans became somewhat derailed at Summer Journalism Camp. My first day there I spent exactly 2 hours getting my assignments for the week. They were (to the girl I used to be) completely overwhelming to the point I made myself sick and my mom had to come pick me up from camp. There were lists of deadlines and we only had 1 hour to write here and 2 hours there – and we were supposed to walk around campus and interview people we saw and ask them why they were there. I actually threw up – luckily not while in the “welcoming breakfast” but shortly after being dismissed in the lobby bathroom.
I guess in a way my experience at Summer Journalism Camp was a good thing because I realized I didn’t have what it takes to be a journalist. That is a cut throat business – ask anyone who’s in it. And I’m not a cut throat kind of gal. Unfortunately all my high school planning was now derailed – also quite a problem for the girl I used to be and I started drifting. Where I ended my drifting was Emergency Services. It sounds quite exciting doesn’t it? And it has been quite a ride for the last 17 years. But it’s not where I intended to be. And I don’t think where I had planned to be would have worked out very well for me. So why is it we are always asking kids “what do you want to do when you grow up?” I think instead we need to start asking our kids “what do you like to do?”
I am in a job that is totally opposite from what I love. I love fiction. My job is about a real as life can get. In my job there aren’t quite as many happy endings as there are in movies and novels. But see when I was planning my whirlwind career that ended in the White House Press Corps – I never really asked myself what do I love to do. I love to write but not get the hottest scoop. I love to take pictures. I love animals. I love baking. I love reading. All these things could have transformed into multiple career choices had I taken the time to figure out what was important to me and not what I wanted to “be.”
I’m still not what I want to “be” when I grow up. But maybe someday soon I will.