That’s one of the big questions I got asked growing up. Even when my world was a tiny terrace house on a gravel street and I thought childhood would never end. Even then, my family and teachers asked me “what’s your dream job”.
When I was 5, I was laying on the living room floor, like a cat stretching in a sunbeam. I’m going to be an artist, I thought. So far, my world was full of art. Like any kid, I loved watching cartoons, painting blobs, and creating works comparable to Picasso. Everything I did involved art. I loved the idea of creating something new, and that’s all that mattered.
Then, around 8 I fell in love with music. A stack of NOW CDs sat by my bedside, and my dad’s walkman often hung on belt loop. My brother and I would snuggle in a cushion fort and use my karaoke set to host our own radio show. We’d mimic radio stations like Radio One, injecting polite banter between songs. I remember listening to the admiration of callers on the radio and wishing to have that love and excitement aimed at me.
From 9 to 12 I wanted to be a Vet. Growing up, the house was home to dogs, lizards, hamsters, guinea pigs, and a snake. They were family, and despite not knowing how to care for them, I cared about them. Then, in 2010, we lost our dog, Max. I realised part of being a Vet is putting animals down, and I couldn’t imagine myself doing that.
After that goal slipped away with reality, I had no idea what I wanted to do. My teen years were rough and filled with uncertainty. I didn’t think I had a future, so why would I dream about one?
At 15, a glimmer of hope broke through the mist. I started reading YA literature as a way to cope with stress and it became a haven. The stories and stresses of fictional characters like Katniss Everdeen, Marguerite Caine, June Iparis carved me into someone new. For the first time I felt like I had a foothold on the world, physical and digital. I started writing my own stories and created a book blog to review and discuss YA literature. At the time, this gave me some hope for the future and so I would tell everyone how I wanted to be an Author.
When reality kicked in, for real this time
At 18, I realised that becoming an Author was a long shot. At the time, I could only concentrate long enough to write snippets. My go to stories were tales of death and despaire that failed to make a ripple in the waves of Wattpad’s content. Although, I did go to university to study creative writing, my professional priority became copy writing. Here, I could mould facts into creative non-fiction works for marketing materials. I became obsessed with boosting my CV through volunteer and work experience gigs, rarely getting paid for my work. And at 19, my portfolio started to flourish, but I never got the guidance I needed to break into any industry.
At 21, a marketing agency saw my potential and offered me a role for an exploitative salary. In this role, I developed fundamental marketing skills like social media and brand management, google analytics, and content creation.
Now at 24, I’m even less sure what I want to be. I have skills in many marketing disciplines, but I only want to work with businesses that market with compassion. And, as we’re entering late stage capitalism, it’s has become increasingly difficult to find companies I can truly rally behind.
Growing up, everyone pushed the idea of having a specific career goal and gaining the professional qualifications needed to get there. But now, even a Master’s degree can’t guarantee an entry level job. While I have 1 foot on the corporate ladder, I’m stuck at entry level. No matter how hard I work, I can’t seem to progress into higher paying roles. Plus, the higher paying roles available involve people management, something I am not suited for.
No matter my position, I should be earning a living wage. There should be ample opportunity to learn new skills and volunteer for work outside of my remit. I should not be expected to place my job at the centre of my life. I should not be working full-time to have no energy or money to live an actual life. Building a career feels like a trap.Continue reading “What Do You Want to Be When You’re Older?”