I’ve done a lot of thinking about vocation over the years. I gather some people partake in idle discussions about dream jobs over coffee with no real sense of urgency. I’ve had those conversations but I’ve also felt an immediate need to rethink my answers in hopes of redirecting my life in a more economically viable and personally fulfilling way. That interest has lead me to go back to school, among other things, only later to realize my error.
Nurse: I lack patience, bedside manor, and am not a fan of bodily fluids.
Editor: Editing is the math of writing. I hate math. Editing is necessary and I am able but it is my least favorite part of the craft.
Teacher: I don’t like children in groups greater than 2 or 3. High-pitched voice mode is not one I operate well in and as mentioned above, I dislike bodily fluids.
Cartoonist: My 1st Grade dream job is silly because I am unable to draw the same thing twice.
Country Music Singer: My sense of irony is too great. My attention span is so limited that performing the same song night after night would be boring. Wranglers aren’t my look.
Photographer: My vision is so that even when I think I have the shot perfectly in focus, the picture comes out somewhat blurry. Yes, even with corrective lenses.
Advertising Executive: The notion of writing ad copy is akin, in my thought, to writing unfunny jokes. And that’s just the sexy part. Then there’s the technical writing and the schmoozing. I am not a schmoozer.
Youth Minister: I actually pursued this one in college. I found that I am so far into left brain field that I’m better suited for creative endeavors.
Non-Profit Director: This one sounds noble enough. It was the second incarnation of the youth ministry dilemma, a seeming need to pursue action-oriented work and a denial of artistic inclination which is more natural to me.
Politician: For me, selecting the lesser of two evils is hard enough at the voting booth. I’m breaking a sweat thinking about it. I see the world in shades of gray and would therefore feel conflicted about making principled decisions that affect other people. (See also: ad exec)
The question then is, if the arguments are air-tight why did I consider these paths? The short answer is that the feeling that I had taken a wrong turn paired with the reality of debt, dead-end jobs, and the desire for a more stable future positioned me for this misguided focus. Of course, there is almost always some small reason to think the idea is a good one.
See the whole picture. Don’t convince yourself prematurely.
I will always do what is necessary to pay the bills and plan for tomorrow. I have learned though that going in these other directions is usually just a gigantic waste of time and effort.
What about you? What career paths have you thought of taking that were really unlike you? What directions have you gone in that served only as detours? Or perhaps, your story is a different one.