When I Grow Up
I don’t remember ever knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew there were some good dreams out there – astronaut, fireman, policeman – but I don’t remember ever wanting to be any of those. I knew pretty early on that I didn’t want to be a mechanic. My dad is one, and I never got his ability to fiddle with mechanical things, and it was far too dirty a job for my tastes. Once we got a wood stove and most of my winter Saturdays were spent gathering wood for it, I figured out I didn’t want to be a lumberjack, either (even though they’re mostly okay).
When I got to high school, specifically my Geometry class with Mrs. Jackson my Sophomore year, I decided I wanted to be a math teacher. That’s the earliest memory I have of wanting to be a particular something. Of course, once I hit Senior Math (a kind of pre-calculous, I think), that went out the window along with my ability to understand what was going on. Still, I liked the idea of being a teacher, and I really liked literature, so I went to college as an English Education Major.
I think it was my Junior year when I figured out I wouldn’t be very good at that. (Suggestion: figure that out earlier in your college career if you can help it.) I switched over to Speech as a major, because by that time I had figured out I liked performing. Turns out that was a really bad semester for me. The worst semester of my college career, as it happened. It ended up that I would have needed to retake most of those classes, which I didn’t really want to do. So I looked at what majors were left and what I had the most credits toward already. Hello there, General Studies! And, hey, English Minor. Might as well keep you, too.
My first job out of college was Director of Student Activities at the college I graduated from. I actually had the job while I was finishing up my degree, but had it afterwards, too. It was a job I always wanted when I was in my first years at college, but once I was in the job, I wasn’t a very good fit for it. I accomplished one or two major goals, but moved on after three years of it.
Next job was webmaster and sorta-tech support at the college. I liked computers, but didn’t know much about them. Turns out the secret to being tech support is to know just a little bit more than whomever you’re trying to help out. That I was able to manage. I had that job for a year (webmaster for three total – it overlapped), and then moved here.
I was looking for a job, kinda interested in computers but still not knowing much. One place I dropped off a resume was willing to teach me, so they hired me on as a computer tech. I learned all about troubleshooting computer hardware problems and, really, became a mechanic, just like my dad — only it was on something slightly cleaner than cars.
From there I moved to a school corporation and from there to my current one, still doing computers, just not the hardware side. I like my job, and I hope I’m there for a long time. So that answers the “what do I want to do?” question.
Now, what exactly do I want to be?
That question’s a bit more difficult to answer. I have general ideas, and I even have put together this idealized version of me that I think it’d be nice to be, but I’m a better thinker than I am an act-er. I can think through what it would take for me to become this well-rounded, interesting, helpful, in-shape person, but that’s usually as far as it gets. Just like the books and scripts I’ve got floating around in my head that I’ve never written out, this Plan For Me doesn’t get any farther than my head.
How does a person go from making plans to carrying them out? I don’t think I’ve ever had that ability, but I sure would like to. Is there a trick to it? Some sort of 7-step procedure? It’s not as simple as “Just do it!” so don’t get all Nike on me – there’s more to it than that. I just don’t know what it is and I’d like to.
I’m way past being ready to be what I’m going to be when I grow up.