Every time I hear that, I think of poor Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) in the 1989 movie, Say Anything. When asked a similar question, he replied, "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."
Yeah, me neither, Lloyd.
I don't remember ever having a huge aspiration to be anything in particular when I was growing up. For some reason, I thought I'd be a psychologist. Why, I have no idea. Maybe I was a good listener. Maybe I enjoyed analyzing people. Maybe I knew it would come in handy for my own mental health. But my mother convinced me that writing was my thing, so as I plugged through high school I assumed my path in life was that of a newspaper reporter.
I've never done that. But I did major in journalism in college.
My junior year, I got an internship at an ad agency in Milwaukee, working for a media buyer on some pretty major accounts. I was hooked, and spent the next few years in various media buying jobs in the Milwaukee area. Upon returning to Peoria I discovered that "media buying" in the Peoria mecca wasn't quite the same as in the big city. I moved on to the vague field of marketing/communications, which I think is code for "wear every possible hat in the book".
After some time off to raise my kids, I went through kind of this mid-life crisis over what I wanted to be. That journalism degree didn't get me much in the way of journalism, but I enjoyed volunteering and tutoring the young children at my sons' school. I spent a good amount of time researching what I would need to get my teaching degree, and the more I looked into it, the more I realized that I was not one of those people who can spend time nurturing small children's minds all day. I could barely raise my own.
The kids I really seemed to connect with were the high school kids, but honestly, I didn't know if I had the cahunas to go into the trenches of today's teenagers. I had a feeling it was not the same high school I had left some 25 years ago. Now, what would have been the perfect job for me would have combined high school kids and psychology - a school counselor. If I didn't write, THAT is what I wish I were doing.
But here I am - at 43 - a writer. Just like my mom said. I write. And I write. And I write. And I hope that one day soon, someone will realize that what I do is a lost art and appreciate my prose - for a price.
And on the bright side, the life expectancy of women today is 80+ years, so I've got a long way to go. There's still plenty of time to figure out what I want to do with my life.
What about you? What would you do if you could?