Realizing Your Vocation: What If You Don’t Know Your Dream Job Exists?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” A doctor, a lawyer, a teacher… let’s be real – I always said I wanted to be a princess ballerina. I could argue I am still aspiring to be that, but I wish someone had probed me growing up as to what I wanted to do, not be. I may not have ever guessed that my first job would be a Marketing & Social Media Analyst, but my mom could have told you by the time I was 7 that I was going to be a writer. If I had known that being a writer didn’t have to be either a novelist or a journalist, I would have saved a lot of trouble throughout my young adult life. I’m thankful to have realized my passions and (one of) my dream career(s), but what if kids don’t even realize all of their potential vocations?

I know I had an atypical childhood, but the TV show friends was a huge part of my upbringing. One of my sisters, Ronny, had won the entire DVD collection from a bar contest the night of the final finale. Cue an entire childhood based on Friends quotes. Do you remember what Chandler did for a living? Exactly – no one fucking knew what he did, but everyone knew that he worked in business.

Fun fact: I never took a business class in high school. Okay, I was required to take a basic economics class but that was the semester I took early bird (7AM classes) and Econ was first hour, so I slept through 90% of the classes. Even the most extreme overachievers aren’t perfect, okay? I thought it was common sense and pointless, and I didn’t know why anyone would take a class on accounting or anything else business-related (but really – why was Keyboarding even offered? I’ve been typing faster than I could talk since I was 7).

Dear teenage self: journalism was easy and common sense to you, and you loved it. Why didn’t you appreciate business more?!

Oh, right. I was asleep. Anyway.

I didn’t really understand what “business” was until late in my undergraduate education. Even after I had transferred to the business school, then as a marketing major instead of math, I didn’t know what future jobs existed for a business student. I just had a feeling that marketing was a good combination of creativity and analytics. Lucky guess?

From my experience in education, we focus on following a track instead of developing a variety of skills. Rather, students feel that they are forced on a track and that the lessons aren’t building sufficient skills. People still complain about why we had to learn so much math, but they don’t realize all the critical thinking skills that transfer from basic education to every single major. We aren’t encouraged to look at the bigger picture, and maybe we don’t have enough role models to consider all the possibilities.

Especially in small towns, we aren’t able to see all of the opportunities that exist elsewhere. Our perspective is limited, so therefore our dreams may also be limited.

I’m realizing how it can be difficult to explain professions to those with different experiences, but I don’t think that’s a reason to not share. I love hearing others talk about what they’re passionate about, and if they’re passionate about their career, it’s so fun to listen. One of my best friends is a food chemist, a profession I never would have guessed existed. I love going out to eat with her and hear what she says about food. It’s fascinating!

If people aren’t passionate about their jobs, I hope for their sake that it’s temporary and they’re on their way to pursuing what ignites their inner fire. Maybe they should read more books or watch more TV/movies, or maybe we should be more open to realizing we all play a part in the economy and the world. We all do different, awesome things, and appreciating everyone’s different lives without comparing them to our own lives could help us better understand what’s actually happening in the world. By 2020, 50% of the workforce will be freelance, creating even more opportunities for innovative and creative minds, which can translate to children and inspire the great minds of the next generation. Who’s to say it won’t?

++ Mary K

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