When you had the opportunity to play by yourself as a child - say between the ages of 8 and 11 - what did you do? When given the "world is your oyster" opportunity, what was your default? When your imagination was not hindered by compromising with siblings or friends - where did it wander?? What did you dream? If given a box, what would you have made?
When I was in high school, the guidance counselor had us each take a career assessment to help guide us on what professional careers we should pursue based on our interests. Living in a Chicago suburb, I was mortified to find that my recommended career field was in Agriculture. Mortified.
They were right, in a sense - as I have not one, but two College of Agriculture degrees. I digress.
Asking those simple questions with which I started this post would have more directly led me to my field of choice.
My brother is 2 years younger than me. We played together a lot. A LOT. A LOT! But there were times when we went our separate ways, and in those moments I would play:
- School - I loved to play teacher and help students with math homework. There was no such thing as a stupid question.
- Nature Hikes - I used to lead pretend hikes in my backyard describing the trees, plants and animals I saw. If I could coax him from his flower garden, I would take my neighbor Grandpa Charlie (~70 at the time) on those hikes once I got my route and topics planned.
- Form-Filler-Outer - I would make forms like Name:______ Address:_______ Age:______, etc... and then fill it out. Sometimes I would ask my mom to make the forms to see if I could fill out anything she asked.
- House - with several children including an ugly child (I borrowed bro's My Pet Monster for that) just to show that I could and would love no matter what. (What kind of messed up child was I??)
- I spent most of my college years as a teaching assistant for one, if not two, classes a semester. I loved helping people "get it" for themselves. (There IS such a thing as a stupid question...if you've not heard one, try helping college students in a Friday morning lab.)
- My favorite job - ever - was as a naturalist where I was given the ability to plan and give hikes at a state park. (I would be doing it to this day if it weren't for having to work every weekend - I enjoyed it while it lasted.)
- My current job is in market research involving online surveys. Although as a child I would not have been able to imagine the ability to fill out a form on a computer or pretend to cyber-commute in my jammies.
- My most prize possession is the relationship that I have with my daughter and stepson. (Neither of which are ugly, but apparently that wouldn't matter!) There was a period in my life that I didn't think I wanted children, but boy am I glad to have those two.
But maybe, just maybe, if I'd been asked those questions when I started college - I could have jumped over a few "opportunities" that turned out to be poor-fitting jobs for me.