Like a lot of children, I had an abundance of career dreams growing up. My earliest memory is of wanting to be a teacher — I feel like most children want this at some point in their life, probably due to the fact that it’s one of the only careers we think we understand! As I grew, so did my interests. When I was 8 I wanted to be a writer. This was one of my biggest dreams. I had a wild imagination. My friend and I spent an entire lunch writing a masterpiece– a science fiction story about two women on the hunt for mysterious gems. There were air monsters (always hidden by clouds, and otherwise invisible to the eye) and a Charlie’s Angels-esc man ordering us around over an intercomm. It was brilliant.
After my friend moved away, my interests changed. When I was 10 I wanted to be an astronaut or astronomer. I was fascinated by the stars and planets. I also loved stationary. I combined these loves and started making rudimentary scrapbooks of interesting news articles that I mostly liked for the pictures.
By age 11 I’d decided I would rather be an Egyptologist. The Mummy had just come out in the cinema and, while I was terrified by the evil, mostly-skeletal mummy Imhotep and his hoards of man-eating scarab beetles, I was also fascinated by this world of sand and history. Heiroglyphs and imagery of gods lined the walls of my minds, carved by pyramid builders and indecipherable to man. I remember I even attempted to look up salaries, but I had no idea what any of the numbers meant. Or what a salary even was.
By 12 I’d abandoned all hopes of Egyptology and instead worried about the fact that I was moving. I was also convinced that there was still time for me to get a letter to Hogwarts and that life would be so much better if I were magical.
The next year I discovered fanfiction, and being a writer suddenly seemed like a very appealing career. My dreams were partially quelled by a rather unforgiving English teacher of mine who just about failed me in all of my assignments and made it pretty clear I had no place in the written world. I was heart broken and, from then on, lost.
I muddled my way through the rest of high school, ended up at college where it took me four years to figure out my interests. Would that I could be a writer. But I also have dreams of being a graphic designer. Of being a chef. Of being an interior designer. I can’t seem to make up my mind.
But I know that every now and then I regret that I never pursued writing in any way, shape, or form. The one writing class I had did more to discourage me than anything. I like to think that if I had some structure, or some helpful feedback, I wouldn’t be too bad. I resent all of the teachers I’ve had who think they know better. A teacher should never work to discourage someone from something they are truly interested in.
What kind of an education system is it where children are discouraged from any career that’s not related to science? Who said that being a doctor/nurse/scientist was the be-all-end-all of careers?
I’m sure at more well-off high schools that there’s a lot more acceptance of different careers. My cousin went to a school that embraced the arts. I went to a school that offered 4 art classes (one for every year) mostly involving painting and drawing and 1 craft class.
My creativity was stifled. I went into college without a clue what was going on.
And I blame the American education system. I blame the amount of tenured teachers who don’t care what happens to their students. I blame the lack of funding for school districts in lower class economic areas.
Because despite where I am today I still get a longing for a pen and paper and a good story. I wish I could voice the plots in my head. I needed guidance, not disapproval. Perhaps one day, I’ll get what I want.