There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes.
- The Doctor, Doctor Who
In the years after college, I drifted aimlessly from job to job, desperate for something to take hold of me and say, “this is the way!” It was a passive way to go through life, quietly accepting whatever opportunities that fell in my lap. In those years between college and turning thirty, I put away any dreams I had of writing to focus on becoming a solid grown up. That came to mean finding a job with a solid paycheck and benefits. Anything else was (so I told myself) a childish refusal to grow up and be sensible.
I dipped into a few career paths, but nothing resonated. I began to ask those around me for their secret to finding a suitable career, because somewhere along the line, I'd learned to distrust my own voice. The problem with other people’s experience is, by definition it is someone else’s reality. If it didn’t gel with what I knew for myself, it was just useless noise in an already crowded brain. The one answer that I should have listened to was that from my husband (he’ll love that I’ve written this) which was this: “I’ve just known exactly what I was going to do in life since I was ten years old.”
I continued to look outside myself for answers. Books, newspaper articles, and coaching sessions with a life coach: when it came to finding a direction for my life, I did anything to avoid facing myself.
Even when I found helpful advice from these sources, I ignored it. For example, my sister directed me to Live Career - an online resource to help you define where your skills and interests lie. I still have my results from about 7 years ago. One chart in particular is very amusing (because of my choices in life, not because of the chart). It is the one that displays my occupational interests. Here’s a bit of the information:
Food Service 96
Health Service 54
Industrial Art 88
Personal Service 38
Teaching/Social Service 87
The higher the number, the more that my test answers indicate that I have a strong affinity for the interest category. This is just one tiny part of the report, and it was very interesting stuff. However, like any of these sorts of tools, I suspect you have to actually apply it to your life for it to help you.
Now, consider this list of my jobs and their respective categories in the chart:
- College administrator (Administration - 13)
- Student/peer councilor (Teaching/Social Service - 87)
- Assistant to a loan broker (Clerical - 2)
- Flight attendant (not on this chart, but I score 8 on Hospitality/Travel)
- Loan officer (Sales - 2)
- Business to Business sales (Sales - 2)
- Operations manager (Administration - 13)
Do you see a pattern here? I do. I see a pattern, and it is telling me that I am an idiot. I spent my entire adult life in jobs that, according to this report, I have no interest in and will not enjoy. Would it come to any surprise to you if I told you I was miserable? Did you notice the area in which I scored highest?
A note on Live Career: My sister sent me the link to Live Career. It has a free option for the test and report, which you can select first. If you like the information in the free version, you can opt to pay for a full, detailed report. I believe I did the latter (it has been some years). I am in no way affiliated with Live Career and don’t know anything about it outside my own experience with my test. I liked the test and information, so based on that I’d say give the free version a try.