“So what do you want to be?” a well-meaning adult will ask.
I remember the questions like they were only yesterday, even if it was a long time ago now! It starts well before Year 12 but gets extra specially heated in the lead up to your final exams. I also remember the career posters plastered on our school classroom walls. Lists and lists of things you could be: hairdresser, mechanic, librarian, doctor or engineer.
I always felt like you had to give a decent answer. In those days, acceptable answers were “lawyer” or “scientist” especially if you were a girl. I could feel the disappointment if a girl said “nurse.” Teachers didn’t exactly shake their heads but we all knew that we girls owed it to ourselves, and our entire gender, to aim higher than “nurse” or “office work.”
Years into my career, running a business and having a family, I really wish I could make sure that question never gets asked again. Let’s never ask another exam-pressured teenager that question.
Instead of asking: “what do you want to be?” lets ask: “how do you want to live?”
What makes me happy is how I live my life. What does my day look like? Simple things like: do I want to drive two hours a day to the office or can I be close enough to walk to town? Other lifestyle questions are really important to me too now. Can I pick my daughter up from school? Can I use my favourite skills every day? Can I work at home?
As a naïve 18 year old I never thought about how I wanted to live, and I definitely didn’t think how I wanted my day to look like if I had children. All those things I’ve felt guilty about, like wanting to pay my own way but also be there to do the school pick up, may never have been an issue if I had planned my study and job choices around building my ideal lifestyle…from day one.
Over the last five years I’ve built my skills and my work to match the way I want to live my life. I now work from home, which has been a big step in creating the lifestyle I want. That’s what’s important to me. Funnily enough though working from home was never on those career posters dotted around our school classrooms! But that’s because working at home is not a job, it’s a way of living.