As soon as you begin to approach the age of 16/17 the question “so what do you want to be when you grow up?” takes on a whole new daunting meaning. I began going to career days at my school where universities would set up little stalls and asked you that very question. Now some of my peers would confidently waltz on up to them and state exactly what they aspired to be in their adult life, whereas I just sort of took one look at the list and backed slowly away (university promoters smell fear…)
The giant gap between your dream and where you’re at.
Through chatting to multiple “big people” about their careers and how they filled their week days I realized that I had never even heard of 90% of those careers or job titles. I mean, people do some cool shit! However, when I took a glance down at those university brochures… I was only seeing career fields that were listed in my 8 year old “What do I want to be” picture book. So when I asked those predatorial promoters what I needed to study to become the person who tests the nuts inside of the M&M’s, they had no idea. When I asked the M&M taster what he had studied, he told me he had a degree in social sciences and didn’t use it at all. I sat on one side of this chasm and on the other side was my obscure dream career… and there was no bridge to close the gap.
Then the voices began
What does one do when faced with a giant question and no correct answer? Naturally, avoid the question. The reality is that university is an incredibly expensive endeavor to go on, so if I was just going to pick a degree like playing a game of pin the tail on the donkey and sort of hope for the best, then I wasn’t prepared to place myself under such a large financial burden until I was certain.
I fell into what I loved. I love to dance and be with people. So I began teaching ballet, now I know it isn’t exactly chemical engineering. But believe me some days it feels like I need to be an engineer to handle a small army of 4 year-olds in a single class. Because I love what I do, not a single moment of it feels like walking on nails. I am passionate about it, I always put my best foot forward, therefore I am successful. However, my parents still held tightly onto the hope that their little girl would become a physiotherapist or an accountant. Could I? Hell yeah I could. Did I want to? Hell no I didn’t. So each time I got faced with the question “So when are you going to choose a real career?” it was like a small punch to my heart, because…I sure felt like I had a “real” career, one that I love for that matter.
Age really is just a number. Don’t believe me? Have cocktails with a soccer mom.
The biggest thing about getting out of school and jumping straight into the working environment is the noticeable age gap. When you’re the small fish in the pond, no matter how amazing you are, generally all the other fish in the pond have been there and done that. Everyone around me had already done the awkward new kid on campus thing, they had already formed their lifelong gal pal friendships at university, and they had already done the whole wild party nights phase. I was left feeling rather isolated from my generation and my former friends, what was the use of having this awesome paying job when all of your friends were out partying with their new university pals. Now you could approach this in many different ways. You could make friends with their new friends and then woohoo your friend group is even bigger! My experience was a little different, people form friendships based on a shared interest or a common experience; so when I tried to spark up a conversation about doing admin in time for invoice week. I was met with blank stares.
It was only when I shoved the age gap under my mattress and started getting to know all of these cool, inspirational older women around me did I discover that age is such a ridiculous social constraint. These women could party hard! And then still be in bed by 11:30 with their makeup off and face fully cleansed. By broadening my filters on my social circle I became a better-rounded young woman with so much more gained knowledge and experience from taking the time to listen to all of the amazing stories around me, despite the numbers.
The age old battle between experience and knowledge.
We all know the memes that circle around college Instagram’s and twitter accounts. There are ways to go about balancing obtaining a degree as well as gaining experience, but let me tell you, those people have shares in the coffee industry with the amount of late nights they experience. I have met so many people who are currently in university who already know that the degree they are studying toward will relate in no way to what they feel they really want to do and have a passion for. The pursuit of knowledge is a life-long endeavor and one that should always be embraced wholeheartedly and with excitement. Knowledge is never useless and can always enhance any aspect of a person’s life. Now days the favorite motto to be used is; “It is not what you know, it is who you know”. I only realized how true that saying really was until I got a taste of the working world. I would not be where I am today if I did not know the certain people that I did. It is all about marketing yourself in just the right way to just the right people. You can have a PhD in M&M’s, but if your social media footprint is non-existant, then sorry my friend. But do you know what the most deadly combination is? The person with a PhD in M&M’s with a banging Instagram account. Now isn’t that the balance that we all strive for?
So what’s the point?
So here is the sappy predictable part that you’ve been waiting for. Each person’s story is unique to that individual and we all have a special part to play in this big show called life. Bleh, I know right.
But I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true, is it easy having people view what you do as inconsequential? No sometimes it isn’t fun. But would I change anything? No I wouldn’t. Perhaps I will study something in university; perhaps I will get my PhD in nut tasting for M&M. The only thing that I can have the utmost confidence in is that I am exactly where I need to be right now. Nothing is ever permanent except today.