Tuesday, July 3, 2012

When you grow up: a designed life, or Study what you like

When I was a kid, I didn't have a personality. I know this because in 5th grade one my classmates had  printed clip art illustrations for each of the kids in class. My friend who loved horses, got a dot matrix picture of horses. A boy who was into soccer got a soccer balls. The very femminine girl got high heeled shoes, And so on.

I got an abstract design.

Things like this made me anxious about what kind of career I'd have. Yes, I actually worried about things like this in 5th grade.

I started journalling at age nine. I wrote that I wanted to be a farmer and a writer.  I have proof of this because I wrote it down.  When an adult asked me what I wanted to be, I'd just seen a commercial for how to be a paralegal, and that sounded legit "I'd like to be a paralegal". She laughed.  Later, in school I tested high for aptitude in music but I didn't want to wake up an hour earlier to go to music class (I wasn't a morning person then either). Even later in school, carrer testing told me I'd make a good priest. 

It came as a huge relief when, in Junior High, I learned that:
  • most jobs that would be available when I was old enough to work hadn't been invented yet
  • most people change their careers a few times, and 
  • most people do not work in the field they studied
This information changed my life. It was a good news confused kid who didn't want to pick her career at 18. 
My goal is not to wake up at forty with the bitter realization that I've wasted my life in a job I hate, because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens. - Daria
To me, knowing a new crop of jobs would appear, and that I wasn't bound forever to my major meant I could study (almost)* anything I was truly interested in without worrying about how it would earn me a living. I could always bend or twist it into one of the new-fangled careers from the future.  So I picked Psychology. 

I love psychology. There were surprises at every turn and being a young science had already built a cool history. Even now, things are fluid. I watched Paul Bloom's Psychology 101 through Open Yale Courses and the field has changed for the better. Even the areas are different. Hot now are developmental psychology and linguistics. 

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is teach yourself or your kids these three things if you haven't already. You could be diverting an early-life crisis.

*I was too scared to study writing or art because I'm a coward.

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