When I was fifteen I decided I would be a fashion designer. I would do it my whole life and die a happy fashion designer.
When I was seventeen, I started college as an English Education major. I was going to teach high schoolers how to write and I would die a happy English teacher.
When I was nineteen, I graduated with my degree in philosophy, ready for law school. I was going to be a child’s advocate and would die happy serving them.
When I was twenty-one, I quit my well-paying career as a college advisor to travel the world and be a vagabond. It was then my ambition started to slip through my fingers…
And I began to take hold of my own life.
Through my many adventures which took me to Vegas, Iceland, and heavens-knows-where, I realized that being a “lifer” in one profession is not the end-all of life on earth. Although I admire those who have decades of experience in their field — they are brilliant — I do not associate with my society’s obsession of longevity in the workplace.
I understand, historically, that it was normal and expected to have one skill set in one trade and live in the same location for one’s whole life. But at what point did modern, Western society evolve from honoring those who devote their lives to their work to judgmentally demanding everyone choose what they want to do for the rest of their lives right out of high school and stick with it until retirement, lest ye be shunned and ostracized from genteel associations?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Why is that answer always doctor, lawyer, actress, plumber, and not kind, volunteer, a member of a family, dog-lover, a great cook, a good Christian, Muslim, Taoist, etc.? Why are we training our children to believe our identity hinges on how we make money rather than who we are as a person?
When I let go of society’s demand of my ambition for a career, I realized how misdirected that ambition really was. There are many aspects of my life and how I earn money is only one.