I find it strange how the world acts as if our careers are pre-determined.
Ever since I can remember, and I know for a fact that hundreds of thousands of people will identify with me on this, I've been asked what I want to be when I grow up.
Now I'm 22. I'm still being asked what I want to be when I grow up.
I've never been someone who ever had a career set in stone, or a clear focus on who they 'wanted to be'. I remember being about 6 years old and wanting to be a post woman which lasted all of 10 minutes, and the next career ambition I vaguely remember having was wanting to write.
When I was young, and I mean very young, I used to write stories. I used to sit in my tiny little box room in my Nan's house and maul over all of the colourful notepads that my Nan had bought for me (not much has changed, I still love stationary) and I used to write stories. Usually they were adventure stories, strange really as now I don't even consider myself to have an imagination that stretches beyond my current living situation. In early secondary school, as I started to sink into an eating disorder and self-harm, I begun to write diaries and poetry, and I've mentioned these briefly in blogs before. I always said from a young age, that I wanted to be a writer.
In my mid-teens I had a fascination with becoming a journalist, and used that as my answer to the 'growing up' questions that were thrown at me. It was one of those careers which everyone seemed to want to have, and I guess involved writing for a living so I made it what I wanted to be. That was before I grew older and realised not long afterwards how much I detest journalism, in all shapes and forms - and have made the concious decision that any published work I produce will be my words and my words only and will be nothing less than what is true. I really strongly do despise the journalism industry, and I'm not just speaking of magazines and newspapers, I'm thinking of the news and the media in general and the way it warps us and our way of thinking. (I digress, this is for another blog post!)
During my late teens I completely detached myself from the writing front and wanted to move into Psychology, and now, after switching my degree to my passion of English Literature, I really have no idea where my life is headed or what I want. Only recently have I considered a few different pathways but have never really been sure if these said pathways are my own or are ones that others have constructed for me.
Being 22, and having a long-term boyfriend who works full-time, I often get asked if my boyfriend ever gets frustrated that he is the solid earner of us two, and whether he gets frustrated that we can't move out together because I only work one day a week, and that I should get my shit together before I leave University otherwise I will struggle in the 'big wide world'.
I know what the 'big wide world' is like, I am an adult, and am capable of making my own decisions that are suited for me - for anyone who has ever asked me that question.
More importantly, I am not going to assign myself to a career because I feel like I should. Right now, not knowing what I want out of life is scary, but it's only a little more scary because people have made it feel like it should be scary. Do you see what I'm saying?
I often get asked if I want to teach (as of course, teaching is the ONLY profession available to you with an English degree) and I sigh as I realise that many people just believe that all I've done in my life is by choosing a certain degree, managed to limit myself and my capabilities in life. No. By choosing to study English Literature, I've opened up a variety of opportunities for myself and I have the capacity to do what and when I want as the time comes to it - with hard work, determination and effort. Success does not just equalise what comes out of your degree. Success does not equalise a degree at all. I'm starting to realise that to be successful in your life is to be happy with what you've got and where you are. And that's never going to come from setting your life in stone. I want to work in an environment where I feel like I'm making a difference, where I'm not compared to every other staff member (as I seem to be now), and where I'm satisfied. A lot of people say, 'well who likes work anyway?' - and I'm determined not to be that person. I do enjoy working and if I'm going to invest in a multitude of careers or one career, I want to enjoy and learn from each one, and if I don't have the strength to change my path.
Why do I have to BE anything when I grow up other than happy? Careers are important, sure, but I'm starting to realise (sounds silly, I know!) that your career should make you happy too - and even more importantly, careers are not lifelong! Life changes and we change along with it, and I never know what might happen in the next few years or where life will end up taking me. I'm starting to get a few ideas now of the sorts of work experience I want to get next summer, and possibly a third year work placement, but I know full well that these are my own ideas and not ones that have been expected of me by others. Having goals is great, and God knows I make them all the time - but only having one expectation of your life's outcome is only going to leave that life extremely limited. As my cousin reminds me constantly, you're never too young or old to make changes, realisations, or steps in your life to lead you in a more positive direction. Life doesn't necessarily have to lead to a destination, and I think that is where my thought process has been lacking in the past few months. Trusting the process, and following your heart and where it takes you, is the ultimate way to go.