Thursday, August 26, 2010

When Do I Have to Grow Up By?

Since when was figuring out what you want to do when you grow up so stinkin’ hard?

When we’re young and longing for that first double-digit birthday, most of us have a pretty good idea of what we want to do when we grow up. Boys would have the standard boy answers of fireman or policeman or even astronaut. Girls ordinarily would want to be teachers and nurses or mommies. Clearly, I went to school in the fifties.

I didn’t want any of those normal jobs. I can remember early on choosing my first job being a fashion designer. I can remember saying it and writing it down. The only problem there was I did not sew or draw very well and at the time my standard daily uniform consisted of stretch pants and empire waisted floral tunics, topped off with a stretchy headband. Even then, swing and a miss.

Yes, fashion designer was my first dream job. After that I really didn’t think about it very much, which I believe now was a big mistake on my part. I was just going on about life, minding my own business, not giving any thought whatsoever to what I might do to make a living once I got out of school.

During high school I toyed with the idea of going to college to become a band director, inspired at the time by my own band director whom not everyone liked. Then we got a new band director and he kind of killed it for me. It’s just as well. Did I really want to spend the rest of my days thinking in terms of eight-to-five steps? The fact that my step size was already eight-to-five was not the point.

Even when I graduated it still hadn’t really hit me that I needed to decide what to do with my life. I had done some modeling and dearly loved it, but how far is a 5’4” runway model really going to go? Not even to the end of the runway. Besides I was nowhere near emaciated enough to make a go of it. Acting had also been a possibility, but in this particular area of the country/world there’s just no outlet unless you want to play one of the old bitties from Steel Magnolias in your local community theater. I did not.

So I went off and had my ill-considered adventures after high school, still just floating about. I eventually got a job at a law firm, which made me consider a career as a lawyer. That takes so long, though, and did I really want to do that? As much fun as arguing is to me and as good at it as I am, I knew there would be a lot of requisite grunt positions that I would have to suffer through first. So defending the scum of the earth is just not my cup o’ tea.

My next job has seen me back at the school system that I once attended. As much as I like my job, there are moments that were somewhat embarrassing for me. Teachers in the system come to the central office once a year for new picture ID tags. Several of my old teachers have popped up as they still work for the board of education. Teachers from middle school and even elementary school have greeted me and asked what I’m doing now. Unfortunately, the answer that popped into my head first was “This.” ‘This’ is delivering packages from the warehouse to the departments in the central office. That’s what they see. I also do purchase orders and invoices but they don’t see that. They see a delivery girl. Yes, it’s embarrassing. They ask what I’ve done with my life and all I can say is “Not a thing! A chimp can do my job! Oh, and I have no ambition!” It’s embarrassing because I know for a fact that they all expected big things from me. Even the stupidest cheerleader in my class became a nurse, a fact which scares me out of ever admitting I’m sick.

Only now do I realize I was supposed to do something...something. I envy people who have always known what they want to do, whether it’s logical or not. Sooner or later, if it isn’t terribly feasible, you’ll find a way to make it that way or turn it into something similar that could work out. There are all sorts of things that I would like to do, but for how long would I like them?

My sister and I had a brief stint in baking and cake decorating. I got so excited about it that I planned in my head what my bakery was going to look like and marveled at the prices of commercial mixers. As much fun as it sounded and no matter how much I knew I would like it, it fizzled out, replaced by...some errant thought, no doubt. Then it was just forgotten. On the plus side, all that baking pretty much turned me off of eating cake in general. I’ve gotten my taste back for it a little, but I am much more critical of any cake I taste now, wondering if I can do it better.

Then I thought of being a lawyer again. But after having talking to one and hearing about the detestable cases he was forced to defend I decided that wasn’t my road. Surely you have to pay your dues no matter what field you go into, but I refuse to defend people I would just as soon flip the switch on if I could.

Throughout the years, though, there has always been writing. I have always written. It’s been a constant. I like to think I’m decent at it. If I didn’t, I don’t think I’d be doing it. With my fingers crossed for my first book to be picked up by a literary agency, I wonder if perhaps this is the road I should travel.

Alternately, I recently decided, or thought I had, what it was I wanted to go to school to do. It is not related to writing or to anything else I have ever considered doing. I like the idea of it and I have even researched job opportunities for this particular degree and the classes I would have to take to achieve it. While I am hesitant at some of the classes, y’know like MATH, I know that I could get past them as long as I kept in mind the end point.

So what am I going to do? Should I be a writer or should I pursue mystery job X that deals with math and chemistry?

Wow, that last one kind of sounds like a no-brainer to me now that I’ve brought math and chemistry into the equation. Eeek.

Maybe I should have just stuck with fashion designer.

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