Last week I shared some of my tips for staying on track as a work-from-home mother (or father). Putting that post together really opened my eyes to how introspective I’ve become when in regard to my career goals.
I got my first “real job” just over four years ago. By real, I mean a salary job with benefits, office space and promotion opportunities. Not that other types of jobs aren’t “real” in my eyes (I’m am a writer, after all…that’s a job, right?), it’s just that getting that job with an actual corporation (as opposed to retail and random freelance) was a stepping stone for me in terms of how I think about my life goals.
I applaud people who chose a path for their lives in high school and stuck with it long enough to build a sustainable career (hey there, high school friends who are now amazing doctors, lawyers, and business owners! you rock). I was not among them. In fact, I waited to even declare a major until the very last possible moment in college, not because I didn’t care but because I was just so interested in everything. How in the world was I supposed to pick ONE THING to do for the rest of my life? Eventually I just went with what I thought would have the most interesting courses and would allow me a good amount of career options: journalism. (from a financial standpoint, perhaps not the most lucrative decision I’ve ever made, but most certainly among the most life-changing).
Ever since, I’ve been on this inward journey to figure out my so-called life’s work (no hint of disillusionment here…hehehe) but what I’ve come to understand with time is that there is not singular answer for the question of “What Am I Going To Be When I Grow Up.” I remember hearing that question growing up from teachers, family members, and other adults, as if a third-grader could possibly have enough perspective to choose a long-term career path that didn’t include kittens, bugs and nap time.
Basically I’ve felt this pressure to choose one static thing to call My Career throughout my life, a phenomenon that seems pretty unique to my generation. Our parents mostly just did what their parents did, right? And do kids today even know that they will one day be adults with responsibility? I’m not so sure.
But what I know now – and what I wish I could tell my self ten years ago – is that my life will constantly change, new opportunities will constantly present themselves, and my dreams and passions will evolve right along with everything else. I wear a number of different hats at any point during the week – writer, editor, blogger, social media wizard, graphic designer, business owner, etc. – though I wouldn’t point to any of them individually and say “That’s it! That’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.” Rather, my career goals are more fluid, influenced more by unknown opportunities and unexpected challenges rather than past experiences.
In some ways, I suppose the whole “You can be anything you want to be” mind-set has allowed me greater freedom to say YES to opportunities that are unfamiliar to me. Like a lot of people my age, I was told I could be and do anything I put my mind to, and I still firmly believe that (mostly because I’ve seen it in practice). It’s how I’ve come to develop many of the skills I possess today.
The point is that my idea of a Dream Career today looks nothing like what I imagined as a wide-eyed college student. Yes, more than ever, I want to do what I love – write, communicate, create, organize and build – but I’m much more content with not having a one-word answer when someone asks me what I do for a living. In my opinion, it doesn’t mean I’m indecisive. It means I’m flexible.
♥ The Midnight Mama