I think about this ALL the time. People used to ask me this when I was growing up and I never had an answer. I could never wrap my head around picking ONE thing to do for the rest of my days…that seemed scary, not to mention impossible. As I transitioned into my college years (and yes, those occurred 4 years later than everyone else’s) I STILL didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just think that picking one thing to stick with for forever and ever amen is difficult…and foolish (at least for me). For those of you who know me, you know that I’m one of the most indecisive people on this planet (my boyfriend is a saint). I change my mind more than any one person should – I’m a Gemini, it’s what we do. I don’t want to be put in a box and told that I have to stick with one field for all of eternity. I like a lot of different things, don’t you?
I can’t possibly be the only person who feels this way. I’ve just seen so many people go through college, get a degree and end up at a job that they hate. You just never know what’s waiting for you once you leave the confines of college. Psychology seemed so great when I was in school. I thought it was fascinating and I was sure that I would love working with clients to help them improve their lives…so that was my choice. I felt accomplished that I had finally made a decision…*praise hands*. Three years into my degree I was already burnt out…but that’s typical. I was just ready to be out in the world, working my magic and making a positive impact on the lives of other people (hahaha, I know, how naive of me).
Fast forward to my first job/internship post graduation. Oh gosh, what had I gotten myself into?! I remember coming home from work and saying that I absolutely hated it. Some of that was because I was working in a mental health facility and had ABSOLUTELY no idea what I was walking into and some of it was because it looked nothing like what I had pictured in my head. It was then that I realized my thoughts and expectations about what it would be like to work in the psychology field were terribly misguided. As time went on the job became ever so slightly more enjoyable. I made friends with coworkers and learned a plethora of information that I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. I worked amongst some of the most intelligent and empathetic people I had ever met, and I’ll be honest, I was fearful that I could never live up to those standards. I know, I know, I shouldn’t put that kind of pressure on myself; of course I couldn’t do what they did, they had been in this environment for years and I was just getting my feet wet. Clearly I had some unrealistic expectations about the field itself as well as what I SHOULD be capable of doing at that stage.
I can say with 100% certainty that working in that environment was the richest experience I have ever had. I saw things I never thought I would see. I learned things I didn’t know that I needed to learn. And I think, in a lot of ways, I became a more empathetic but realistic person. I realized that with the good came the bad, and unfortunately some of the realities that lie behind those walls didn’t seem like something I wanted to pursue further. I had to take a step back and recognize that those feelings weren’t necessarily a bad thing. I think experiences like that are crucial in figuring out exactly what you like and don’t like; It helped me to understand the populations that I felt comfortable working with and the ones that don’t exactly fall in line with what I wanted in my future…and that’s okay. It took me a while to realize that not every population HAD to be for me…and boy am I glad I finally figured that out.
Moving on – now that I’ve gone on a ridiculous tangent for forever and a day, I’ll get back to my point….I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. Sometimes I think I wanna work in sports and forget about every thing else. Let’s be honest, that’s probably what I know the most about. But then there are days when I feel like I would really like working as a school counselor. I feel really called to work with children and families that come from challenging environments (whatever that may look like) and really feel like I could make a difference. And then there are the days when I wish Sports Psychology was a bigger field that was a bit easier to break into…but it’s not. So basically I go back and forth between those three things…and I think that’s normal. Is that normal? Is there a way I can do all those things without having to go through 657644 years of school, because that would be ideal. If you find a way please let me know, I’ll be here waiting.
So what do you want to be when you grow up? Do you have any idea or are you all over the place like me? Come on, join the dark side, it could be fun!