Big Dreams … Sort of …
The earliest I can remember, I wanted to be a physical therapist. I had never even met a physical therapist, but for years I proudly told people that’s what I would do. Somewhere around middle school, I decided I would rather be a food stylist … someone who styles food for commercials. I mean, who really makes a full-time living by pouring white glue on cereal and applying lipstick to strawberries?! But y’all, I really researched this stuff, and I was going to be good at it. I guess that dream somehow got replaced in high school when, after a long conversation with a mall cop (yes you read that correctly), I realized I wanted to do forensics. This was way before forensics were cool (and completely unrealistic) on television screens across America. I wanted to work on the crime scenes, however, I did not want to be a cop-turned-detective to do so. I mean, I am not cop material. So back to food styling it was.
By the end of senior year, I had visited and applied to the Art Institute of Dallas. One day, however, I decided to drive over to the local crime lab and start asking questions. I told them I would take out the trash if they would just let me work there. Ultimately, I wasn’t qualified to do anything for them (no surprise here), but they did encourage me to pursue a degree in science. So I changed my life plan (again), cancelled my move to Dallas, and started concentrating on forensics.
Senior year of college, my Chemistry professor asked me why I was studying science. I told him “because I’m curious and analytical, you know, I love this stuff.” He shook his head and said “I think you missed your calling. You should go to Seminary.” Wait. What? What is that? I had never even heard of Seminary. What was he even talking about? However … through all those questions, I still knew he was right. I loved science, but I knew there was something more. Long story short, I moved to New Orleans and ultimately, I ended up in Seminary.
The ‘Big Dream’ Journey
So what is my point? Why do I bring up all the awkward turning points of my journey towards finding the career of my dreams? I would be foolish to say that the path I chose did not lead me to exactly where I needed to be. But I have to ask why. Why did it take so long to get here? I had a conversation with friends recently and we all lamented the fact that based on our particular upbringings (friends, family business, geographic location, etc), we all had a somewhat limited view of the job world. They had all, like me, chosen a degree by flipping through a University catalog. Now I do believe, wholeheartedly, that we are all on a journey, and ultimately our gifts will find us if we don’t find them first. But I’m trying to be more intentional about opening my children’s eyes to a world that is full of entertaining, adventurous, and fulfilling careers.
I want my kids to know that there are people who get paid to skydive and people who study bugs for a living! If they love computers, I want them to know there is such thing as an Ethical Hacker. They need to know that some of the most influential brands of their generation were started in a garage. Rocket Science really is a profession, not just a sarcastic retort. You can get paid to help the homeless. There is a human voice behind every cartoon! And there are medical doctors who never have to touch a patient, if they don’t want to. I want them to know they can design houses, clothes, cars, or theme parks. If they know at five years old they’re going to be a rock-star, and then in fact, become a rock star … more power to them! But I want them to explore their options wildly along the way.
My parents supported every little crazy dream I had, but I am hoping to expose my kids to so much more than the family business and what’s offered at the local Universities. I hope to cultivate a home where they can be so much more aware of the endless possibilities before them. While I think the internet and social media have certainly changed the game on this, I hope to encourage them through exposure and job-shadowing, travel, and perhaps most of all, through engaging conversations.
For those of you with older kids, how are you helping your children to find a career path they truly value and look forward to? While they are young, and still have so much time to change and grow, how can we best expose them to the many fascinating ways they can earn a paycheck and change the world?