When you're a little kid, everyone always asks you what you want to be when you grow up. Super young kids say things like princesses or Batman, but getting into elementary school they begin to get semi-realistic. Semi.
When I was asked what I wanted to be, my first response was "Robin Williams." I think that took some people off guard, since apparently it isn't normal for a blonde 8-year-old girl to aspire to be a small, hairy funny guy with a coke habit. I eventually changed my tune, and decided on archaeology. When I learned that all the mummies had already been found and were in museums waiting to be seen, I changed again. Perhaps the one I kept for the longest was architect - and that still remains one of my passions that I sadly don't have the math skills or requisite degrees to pursue.
It's normal to change your mind a lot as a kid. I think at one time I wanted to be an airline pilot. That would scare the living fuck out of me now. But there comes a time in your "adult" life (adult as referring to the age limits set by the government, which obviously do not coincide with maturity levels) when you don't get to change your mind anymore. Some people find a job right out of college and stay in that industry, others go to grad school with a clear path in mind that generally they stick to. And then there's me.
At that same point when people start getting jobs and sticking to them, it really sort of becomes unacceptable to change your mind. Once you pass grad school age, you're kinda SOL if you haven't found your niche. You're no longer "aspiring" or "experimenting", you're lazy and a fuck up.
Law school, ironically enough, is called a "terminal degree" - one where you can't get any higher in the field than that. I was hoping it would be my terminal degree, but things don't always turn out the way you want them to. If you asked me the day I graduated law school what I'd be doing at age 31, it sure as hell wouldn't be "single, unemployed graduate student living with my brother and two cats." I'd have said I'd be married, hopefully living in California (ONE goal achieved, check) and likely be prosecuting big time criminals as a US Attorney. Let's all get a good laugh out of that one for a second.
If you'd asked me last year what I'd be doing when I graduated USC in May, I'd likely have said something very specific about doing PR for this or that agency or company. You ask me now? I don't have a fucking clue. Every minute of the past semester I've been terrified of graduating, not because I'm not ready to enter the workforce, but because I'm afraid the workforce won't want me.
I was at an interview last week for a job that meshed both my law degree and PR degree into an internship. I was really interested because it involved interesting law and a lot of writing. Obviously, as I sit here at 1am on a Sunday night (Monday morning?) blogging, it's pretty clear that I enjoy writing to some degree. The interviewer asked me standard questions, why I wanted the job etc., which I think I answered with enough vigor to show I'd be a good employee. Then she asked me what I see myself doing in five years.
With the way my life has gone, and not all of it bad in any way, I could be living on a houseboat in Hawaii making odd crafts I sell on Etsy in 5 years. I could be a lawyer again. I could be a professor. Where do I think I'll be in five years? The only honest answer is "alive" and very likely still on the west coast. Where do I WANT to be in five years? Happy. Doing what, I don't care. I don't know where my money will come from or what I'll be doing, but I hope to god I'm happy.
While the interview went well I think, I left feeling depressed. Angry, depressed and irritated. I'm tired of people asking me what I want to be when I grow up. I know I'm fucking 31 and should have some idea of what I want to do with my life, but I don't. Honestly, if I could choose ANYTHING, I'd be a writer. I'd write for Chelsea Lately or Saturday Night Live, or some other comedy. I'd write books, snarky memoirs and tales of my dating woes.
I'm not lazy, irresponsible or a fuck up. I have an honest confusion as to where I want my career to take me, or where to even start. I'm past the point of what I "want" to do, now it's "that wouldn't be so bad." Now I just need to find a job so I can support myself and so people won't look at me like I'm some sort of child who needs tending because I can't make up my mind. I hate having to explain myself to people I meet when they ask me "what do you do?" I'm tired of talking about it. It happens every day. Every damn day someone reminds me that I'm very much an adult and very much not at the right point in my life.
Stop making me explain myself. If I could do that, I'd likely have the answer to my own questions. I don't. I'll find something I don't mind doing that will support me and pay my bills, but I don't know what that is right now. Stop making me explain why I left law. Stop making me feel like I made a mistake because of a horrific experience and that I'd likely still be employed if not for what that did to me. Maybe I did make a mistake, but I would have never found that out without going through school last year and having stress lead to my PTSD diagnosis.
All I want is some stability. I want to know I have a job when I graduate. I want to know that soon people will look at me as a real adult and not some wandering hippie child out to find meaning in life. I'm still looking. Who knows when I'll find that meaning, but at least I can have people see me as a normal person while doing it once I graduate.
The only people in my life that I know understand me are my parents. Both changed careers in their mid-forties. I'm lucky to have supportive parents because this is a tricky situation, especially financially. I'm glad they're not the prodding annoying parents who are angry that I haven't (and don't plan on) given them grandchildren. I'm harder on myself than they are on me. I always have been. I just want everyone else to see that I'm trying. Eventually I can be included in dinners to nice restaurants or other things I currently can't afford. Eventually I won't be "the poor friend." I guess I'm just a late bloomer.