When you were a kid, what did you dream of being "when you grew up"?
I remember an exercise in second grade in which we were supposed to draw ourselves at 20, 30, 40, 50, etc., and--not understanding what all went into preparing for a career--I drew myself as a teacher, a lawyer, a librarian, a veteranarian, and so forth, a different career at every age. (None of those things do I actually have any recollection of wanting to be. At that age, I just wanted to be ten.)
I remember walking through the Smithsonian a few years later, looking at the paintings and agonizing over whether I would be an author or an artist when I grew up. Those were my dream jobs for most of my childhood. I made paintings and sold them door to door one summer. In fourth grade, I wrote a "novel" about a pioneer family with twelve kids and had my teacher critique it. Author or artist, that was the big question. (As a book editor who blogs, scrapbooks, paints, and dabbles in graphic design, I guess I've managed to do both, to some extent!)
At other points throughout my childhood, I wanted to be a novelist, a jewelry designer, a costume designer, and a greeting card designer for Hallmark. Somehow my dad convinced me that that last one meant I wanted to go into marketing. I'm not sure if he actually saw the connection or was just trying to put something practical into my head. I also wanted to have twelve children, which I guess meant I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, since it would take more than two salaries to put twelve kids in day care.
As I got into high school and college, I went through phases of wanting to be a child psychologist, a historical advisor for movies, a youth pastor, and finally--a religion professor. I was out of Divinity school and working in market research for a religious publisher before I decided I didn't have the self-esteem to endure a doctoral program and that I should stick with religious publishing instead.
I am definitely happy with that decision. I have loved my job over the last four years or so--editing books, a magazine, and now a website--so I consider myself pretty lucky. (And my dad is still in shock that I am making a living with two degrees in religion.)
My work over the last few years has even, in some ways, included elements of several other "dream jobs":
- reporter on the religion beat
- secret church shopper
- professional organizer (of words, paragraphs, and articles, if not actual "stuff")
I feel like I'm using my gifts and my education, and it's just a great situation. As my friend Katie quoted last week, "the best leaders are the ones who are able to do what they do best every day."