Lecturing at the College I am meeting lots of people with different vocational interests from Hairdressers to Digital Media makers, Childcare specialists to Administrators many of whom have a fixed and planned path through life to their careers in the future – yet I stand in front of them not sure what I want to do when I grow up.
Teaching was a means to an end in many ways and after a decade in it it’s not what I thought I’d be doing with my life. The move to the college has really freshened things up for me and I’m enjoying it and the new challenges it is bringing, but I just can’t see myself doing it for the next thirty or so years. All these people who know where they want to go, I’ve never really felt like that and I’m a little bit jealous of them in some ways because if I did have a vision f the future it might make it easier to get here.
When you are a kid you are allowed to dream and consider even the most outlandish possibilities for jobs like Rock Star and Astronaut but by the time kids are in their teens the fun has been bashed out of them and they are considering jobs that are traditional and at times mundane because that’s what they are expected to do. One thing I love about America is they don’t knock that out of them – they might not get to be the next person in space but the American dream is a more positive thing that the negative British “Well you do realise you’ll have bills to pay…” model. Again at school we teach novels about that very American dream when it all goes wrong – from Catcher in the Rye to Of Mice and Men just to point out the ridiculousness of the thought in the first place.
With most of our kids looking at a fifty year career, if the pension age rises to seventy, should we not encourage them to try to be more than the beige carbon copies of us? When I was a kid I had lots of ambitions, none of which were job based and nothing’s changed either – I still have a list of things I want to do but I have no secret ambition to climb any greasy poles in business. I ‘work to live’ and not the other way around. What’s wrong with taking a chance on a dream in your younger years even if you only end up in a nine to five office job later on?
It all feels part of that drive to make us grow up early. We’re constantly told to act our age – whatever that means – and to “grow up”. I don’t want to. Being an adult sucks. You can’t walk along walls or skip down the road; if you buy sweets they are sensible ones and healthy one even though we have no barriers to stop us apart from the looks from others; we should read “grown up” books and watch serious programmes when all I want to do is re-read the Mr Men and put on Scooby Doo. I want to laugh at funerals, shout in libraries and fart in lifts not check insurance documents, worry about the cost of my MOT or have nibbles and wine at dinner parties.
Growing up is inevitable in a physical sense and in certain situations a more sober and respectful approach is better with your personality – but haven’t we all forgotten the joy of running down a hill so quickly that you think you’re going to fall at any moment, or the simple joy of a water pistol fight. All these things must disappear at the same time when the “career” or “Job” thoughts change. We spend so long telling our kids to grow up that we forget how horrible it is to be an adult at times and just how simple and joyous it is to be free of our self-inflicted boundaries.
I don’t know what I want to do next, apart from continue not to grow up.
PS This sums it up for me!