Once Upon a Time, I Didn’t Know What I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up

When I was in elementary school, I was surrounded by fellow students who all seemed to know what they wanted to be when they got older. There were the “Fireman” kids, the aspiring “Lawyers,” and the “Doctors” who wanted to save the world.

Of course, there always was a sprinkling of kids who wanted to be “President of the United States.” I thought about that one for awhile, and I finally settled on aspiring to be Vice President – I figured you get the glory and get to experience the interesting parts without having to do all the work.

My total lack of direction continued as I grew older.

I mean, obviously I dreamed of becoming a backup dancer for Paula Abdul someday, but I struggled with my back-up plan. Dancer of any sort would be awesome. But I knew, if I was going to be a professional ballerina, I would have made it further than I had by an earlier age, so that was out.

Growing up to be an orphan in the cast of Broadway’s “Annie” would be super cool, but I was pretty sure I was aging out of that one. My brother was leaving me in the dust in the piano world, so I knew that concert pianist was definitely out (and I’d probably have to practice more than once a week).

I was stuck. I was in this weird position where (not to toot my own horn, but… “toot toot”) I was good at various things and I was a great student… but I had zero idea what I wanted to do with my life.

Time to Talk to a Shrink

Well, not so much a “shrink” as a career counselor, but whatever. My parents, probably seeing that my love of reading and cat calendars wasn’t easily lending itself to a career path, decided to take me to this renowned career counselor in the city. This guy knew his stuff! I could not WAIT to sit back and have him tell me exactly what I should be doing with my life. All the mystery would be gone! I’d have a career focus! Phew… about time.

I sat through various, long tests and did my very best to be honest and truthful, because I really wanted this process to work.

And a few weeks later, we went back for his final assessment…

Singing Nun Tour Guide

Turns out, I’m as baffling to figure out in tests as I am in real life. I didn’t seem to have one singular interest that stood out. I was kind of all over the place as far as my interests and areas in which I may find happiness and success. The personality results were very… confusing.

Unfortunately, they confirmed what I already knew: I’m a mess.

I was destined to be “a jack of all trades but master of none,” as my very focused brother had once warned I was becoming.

But things got really interesting when the career counselor gave me examples of careers that stood out the most for me. Now, his job was to focus more on the personality traits and what they lend themselves to and he doesn’t really do the “You should be THIS specific job” thing, but I probably asked for examples. So I was told the following…

According to the test results, I’d equally find happiness and satisfaction in any of the following: (1) Clergy, (2) Entertainer, and (3) Bus Driver.

Whaaaaa??

Of course, all I could picture was running some sort of “Sister Act”-esque bus tour company.

I Followed None Of This Advice

When I found myself having to declare a major in college, I first chose theology (I was smart and it sounded smart, so I thought it was a perfect fit). Then I changed to Elementary Education, with my reasoning being it has a little bit of everything: reading, writing, science, math, art, crafts, music, etc. Plus, I could “entertain” a class.

Turns out, I chose wrong. It could have just been my (awful) student teaching experience, but I did not enjoy teaching.

But my mom being a librarian, my love of books and information and technology, and my continued love of working with children led me to another idea: children’s librarian! So, I entered school to earn my Master of Library Science. This was going to be perfect!

But, then, my darn multiple interests reared their ugly head again.

When taking a Law Library class, I thought, “Yesssss. This is perfect!” I’d have to go to law school but wouldn’t have to take the Bar Exam. Thus, right after finishing my Master of Library Science, off to law school I went. But, in my first year, my baffling self decided to mess matters up yet again. I realized I just loved the practice of law, so I decided to forget the whole Law Librarian thing and go full-fledged lawyer, Bar Exam and all.

Enter: Motherhood

I only practiced a very short time before I settled into the family life. Only then did I find true satisfaction in what I was doing (please note that “satisfaction” by no means equals “total and utter happiness at all times”). I let my law license lapse and just focused on things like making the best boxed mac-and-cheese possible.

Of course, every once in awhile, as I’m doing some amazingly horrible task, like clearing a Lego board of all the flat Lego pieces my children covered it with, I find myself thinking, “Three degrees for this?!”

The Doc was Right!

But, just this morning, a new awareness washed over me: that annoyingly smart doctor counselor guy, with all his bajillions of tests, was right.

Because, as I drove my girls to summer camp, I found myself playing music they love and singing and car-dancing right along with them, interrupted only by a short conversation with one of my girls about the skill of “be friendly but you don’t have to be friends” with some camp goer who was driving her nuts. And it hit me!

[gasp!!]

I essentially was a bus-driving entertaining nun!! I mean, kind of. But, in my job as a mother, I drive these little crazy people around all over town from activity to activity. And I entertain them (whether they want it or not) in all sorts of ways. And I help them find their moral compass, try to help them with their spirituality, and counsel them on how to be good people in a not-always-good world.

I Finally Found My Way

So, maybe it took me three degrees to get where I needed to be, and sure, maybe I don’t “use” any of these degrees in the traditional sense. But, in the end, I landed where I was supposed to be.

I often get asked, “Do you regret not using your degrees?” (usually right after someone’s made some comment about student loans – cool). The answer is “No.”

But it’s not “No, I don’t regret not using my degrees.” Instead, it’s, “No, you’re wrong. I DO use my degrees.”

Everything I learned along the way has made me who I am today.

Every book read, paper written, case briefed – all of it has added to my mind and being as it is today. And there’s the little point that I would not have met my husband (and had these amazing girls) if I hadn’t gone to law school.

Sure, in the future I’ll probably put one or two of my degrees to use and wiggle my way back into the workforce. But, for now, I’m happy being a Bus-Driving Entertaining Nun.

All Aboard!!