Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"When I grow up, I want to be a principal or a caterpillar."

I wanted to be a lot of different things when I was a kid.

The first thing I remember wanting to do was draw. I've always been very good at art, so I decided I would be an artist. Then first grade happened. I remember this day distinctly. My teacher asked all the children to draw pictures of what we wanted to be when we grew up. As all the other kids asked the teacher how to draw spaceships, cowboys, and princesses, I set to work at drawing myself drawing. I worked on drawing myself first. When that was done, I thought I'd draw an easel next to me with some paintbrushes. But when I tried to put pencil to paper, but my hand paused in mid-air. I didn't know how to draw an easel. I didn't even know where to begin. So I thought about it a few minutes, and when I couldn't come to a conclusion, I regrouped and decided to draw three dogs instead. I put them on leashes in my hand and titled it "Becky Scherer: Dog Walker."

Needless to say... art wasn't a contender for much longer. I made my first rule: if future career involves drawing, prerequisite must be ability to draw one's own commonplace materials for said career.

Then there was the time I wanted to be a wildlife biologist. I had no idea what a wildlife biologist did, other than got to play with cool animals like killer whales. I had seen the term in one of my dad's National Geographics, magazines I read religiously as a kid. And I'm not even talking about just looking at the pictures... I actually read the thing, cover to cover. I have no idea how I understood any of it in my young age... but evidently I didn't, as I chose my future career based on a cool picture of a female scubadiver petting Shamu. And it wasn't just a childhood thing. That idea stuck with me until roughly my freshman year of high school, when I had to take my first Biology class and realized how hard it was. At the end of that grading period, I ended up getting a B+, but decided that while Biology made for a very interesting class... I didn't want to have to work that hard to earn a B+ at my job for the rest of my life.

Second rule: refrain from choosing future career based upon full-page, syndicated, color photos in hard-to-decipher publications, especially if said career contains form of suffix "-ology."

Later that year, ignoring the second half of rule two, I took my first Psychology class and found another job aspiration. I would be a psychologist. Not a psychiatrist, though, because I already knew I would never make it through medical school. I absorbed every psychology-related thing I could find: I had a subscription to Psychology Today; I researched and reported on a different psychological disorder for every term paper for the next three years; I rented movies like Pi and Sybil every weekend. My junior year of high school, I did a semester-long job-shadowing gig at a counseling center in Merrillville and learned all about the luxury of a Psy.D., making my medical school woes obsolete. I enrolled in college as a Psychology major.

Then varied events commenced that I don't really wish to talk about, and my dreams of counseling people through their sorrows and helping them find happiness were sadly lamented.

Third rule: when attempting to discover your passion in life, allow no one to defer you from your course, no matter how silly or outdated they believe your latest attempt to be.

I had to pick a new major, so I settled on the subject of the last compliment someone gave to me: English/Creative Writing. My favorite professor had spent the last week stroking my ego about a story I wrote for class, and so at my low point, I decided I might be good at writing. The next year, an internship in the Office of Publications and Media Relations fell into my lap when the real intern quit and I was promoted from the lowly student worker to the esteemed intern. Ever since then, I've "known" I was supposed to be a writer.

But, really, what do any of us know? How do I "know" I'm destined to write? Because I was an impressionable freshman and an adult complimented my work? Because a campus job was handed down to the next student in line? Because I wrote one great story four years ago and suddenly gained a reputation for writing?

I'm working on putting together some pieces for possible publication (that's for another post), and I was having a particularly hard time with revisions a few days ago... so I took an online job aptitude test as a means of procrastination.

I learned that I'm most suited to be in the food service industry, where I spent my entire high school career and summers/breaks from college before I got my first "real" job. I also discovered that apparently I'd rather "test canoes in rough water" than "teach deaf children to lip read."

In high school, I took a similar test with my guidance counselor. The two careers I tested highest for were manager of a fish hatchery and a rabbi. According to that test, I have to either let go of my aversion to slimy fish eggs or convert and get a sex change to achieve my life's calling.

Teaching deaf children to lip read... helping fish eggs hatch... spreading the word of the Torah... maybe I was just taking the easy way out when I decided to write. Maybe there's more for me out there than press releases, event photography, and publication proofs. Maybe there's more for all of us than the careers we settle into and the names we forge for ourselves. Maybe I should have just tried a little harder to draw that easel.

9 comments:

Phil said...

this is in no way meant to poke fun at your artistic abilities. just keep in mind that *you* asked *me* to draw your name on your wall, Adult Swim stlye ( [becky] ), even after I told you I was no good at drawing.

Typing 'drawing' makes me think of the old Mike Myers SNL skit..... "Hello my name is Simon / and I like to do drawl-rings"

Becky said...

Phil, I wasn't in the most capable state of mind that night. You, however, overcame the situation and outdid yourself with your blatant display of artistic rendering. And what was funnier than that Adult Swim commercial?

"[sean!]"

[becky!]

mjd said...

Becky,
This is an insightful post laced with fine touches of humor, in which you proved that you are indeed a writer. However, in the future, if you care to try something else, I am sure that you will do that well too. Didn't I hear you sing a some St. Joe event? You must be singer as well as a writer. You can do lots of things although the rabbi thing may not work out.

Luke said...

Well, the next time someone tries to steer you away from the career path of your dreams, you let me know. I'll give him/her a swift flick to the nose.

Annie said...

1. I've seen Phil's name-painting skills. Phil was not meant to be a painter. (Pretty PhD, I still love you.)
2. Shut up! Anyone who can write about not being a writer like THAT is definitely a writer.
3. Lest you forget -- a group of 28 seventeen-year olds recently critiqued your work and then asked for more....need I say more?

Frema said...

Great entry. I love when you blog like this!

I love to write, but I think there are a lot of other things I would enjoy. I'm comforted by the fact that there's time for me to try on some different "callings" and see how they fit. Gone are the days where you work your entire career in one place, for one company, before you get your gold watch. Remember, you work at a college, so you can take classes for free. I'm sure Bonnie would love to see you in one of her classes!

Phil said...

Hey artist, can you Photoshop me up something real quick?

;-)

deuber said...

I was once told that I would someday be called by God to preach.

If you know me and you were drinking milk when you read that, I'm sorry.. that stuff feels funny coming out your nostrils (dairy dragon?) and is not fun to choke on.

Anyway, I second the sentiment in your question, "what do any of us know?"

There are times when I'm completely bored and feel like I need a change in my life, and I think of giving up my current career for something that involves more people interaction, something with more meaning. But, there's a lot involved in that, and the details start to get overwhelming.

Then, I think about quitting drinking or something instead...

Then, I laugh a little and fall fast asleep on my huge pilla.

Melanie said...

Dear BeckyLovesRob,
I read in your away message that you're hungover. I find this insteresting since it's 5pm. Do I even want to know what your sorry lush ass has done today? Because you sure as hell haven't posted = )

xoxo
your baby blogger