Each Thursday evening, Tim Gunn tells the designers on Project Runway, “Make it work.” Every time my husband and I move to a new town, I tell myself to make each new challenge work. With each move, I find a new house, a new social group, and a new job, but I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
“You’ve had so many jobs,” commented a new friend over drinks a few nights ago.
That comment keeps running through my mind. My new friend’s tone was humorous with just a touch of judgment. Whether that judgment was good or bad, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have had a lot of jobs. I have always tried my best to adapt, to bend according to each new challenge, to make it work. Since college, with each new stage or Army move, I have reinvented myself according to the needs of the particular time or town, all with the hope of one day landing on a job that turned into a career.
So, yes, I have had a lot of jobs. Some jobs barely paid the bills: waitress, theatre costume shop manager, drama teacher, visual merchandiser, and newspaper columnist. Some jobs paid all the bills: high school guidance counselor, instructional programs specialist, and outreach services director for a childcare organization. Some jobs barely paid anything at all: stitching and performing for a puppet performance group (Yes, I said puppet. For that illustrious career, I paid student loan bills), sewing instructor, community theatre director, substitute teacher, and voice over artist.
And yes, my resume looks like that of an Irish Traveler. Some potential employers may think I’m on the lamb. Some may think I have the attention span of a gnat. But that is because I refuse to believe that simply because my husband’s career causes us to move every few years that I must resign to do nothing with my life. Or, that I should choose employment in a field common to all areas: bank teller, retail associate, waitress, teacher, nurse, etc. Some of these bore me to death. Reliability is not worth mind-numbing boredom. Some I have tried and hated. (I learned years ago that I lack the patience to teach middle schoolers. By the end of my teaching gig, I started fantasizing about smacking a few of my students in their snarky little mouths, so I got out before I got arrested.) And nurses deal with bodily fluids far too often. I don’t think a sensitive gag reflex is a good quality for a nurse. So, I have refused to settle for common professions. Instead, I search for my next mountain to conquer.
Maybe I am still searching for what I want to be when I grow up. Or maybe, I want to be everything when I finally grow up. Why settle on just one career when you can evolve and change with every transportation order? You may be thinking, “This woman needs to make up her mind!” But why not reinvent? Reinvention is invigorating! Reinvention prevents burnout and boredom. Reinvention provides risks, which are good for the soul. Why be miserable in a job you hate? Why stew in dissatisfaction? Why not leap? Your 401K will roll, 2-page resumes are forgivable, and you can ask yourself, even at 37, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”
What do you want to be when you grow up? If you could change your current career path and be anything you wanted to be, what would you be? Share your dream with me in the comment space below!