I remember being in the fifth grade and our teacher going around the class, asking everyone what they wanted to be when they grew up. Each person stood up and said things like, ‘doctor’ and ‘football player’. And each time, the teacher would say, “That’s wonderful! Then you should go do that.” She said the same to me when I said I wanted to be a Supreme Court justice.
I think she was totally wrong to have said that.
Here is what I think she should have said:
“That’s great, Seja! So you want to be a Supreme Court Justice? So that means you want to go to university, get into a top tier law school, read until you fall asleep in the library, work to get on the law review, graduate in the top 3 of your law school class so you can get a Supreme Court clerkship, get a job at a top law firm where you’ll easily work 90 hours a week, eventually become a judge and then maybe be nominated by a United States president after which you will go through a grueling week of testimony and questioning by the US Senate, in which they will publicly bring up everything you’ve ever done and said in your life to be a US Supreme Court Justice?”
And many people may have said, “Heck yes! Bring it!”
I would have said, “Maybe not. I don’t think I want to do that really.”
Here is my point, career-deciding people…ask yourself some introspective questions now and it may help guide you to where you want to be. Questions such as:
What did you love to do when you were a child?
If there is something you are drawn to as a career, are you prepared for all aspects of the work? (Want to be a doctor? Be ready for call. Want to be a nurse? Be ready for changing bedpans. Want to be a hedge fund manager? Be ready to sleep on a cot in the back room of the office.)
Do you want a lot of time for yourself outside of work?
Is money the highest goal?
I thought it was when I was 18. Until I learned that sometimes when you go after the money, you end up spending all of the money. (See previous post.) (Also, please remember that studies show that once you meet certain needs such as shelter and food, happiness does not go up dramatically based on increases in income.) (I know what you are saying…”But Seja, you don’t see people crying on jet skis.” Just trust me on this one.)
I know, not everyone can do what they love as a career. Say you want to be a surfer, but maybe don’t have the desire to live out of a camper on the beach and don’t have the skills to win world surfing competitions? Then maybe teaching is for you – you can have your summers off and only live in a camper on the beach two months out of the year.
As for me, I loved styling hair as a child. I loved playing soccer. And I loved making jewelry.
And most importantly…
I loved my time and my freedom. And I knew I wanted to be able to spend as much time with my loved ones as possible outside of work. So maybe not a Supreme Court Justice.
I still check in with myself on the questions above. After all, none of us is the same as we were ten years ago.
And even after all of this, you still don’t know any of the answers to the questions above yet, that’s okay. Just remember to:
- live in the present moment
- follow your heart
- don’t worry about the future
- You’re going to be okay
- And that if you dial a number ending in ‘PAPA’, you will most likely reach someone who can deliver a pizza to your dorm room.