Most parents want seemingly simple things for their child; to be safe, to be educated, to be healthy, to be happy… unfortunately none of those things actually prepare you for life.
School’s let us down. Ok so we can read and we can write and, if you’re anything like me and struggle with the 6, 7 and 8 times tables and have to add up on your fingers, can do basic maths. Who learned self defense? Why savings are important? How to change a car tyre? Parenting? How to deal with stress?
I spend the majority of my time right now looking for a day job. I regularly wish that I was some kind of ‘specialist’. Even a general stage manager, if they don’t have technical responsibilities, isn’t a specialist beyond that they understand stage terms and can be organized. I feel like I’ve spent too long bouncing around from one thing to another just because I feel like I can do those things, rather than because they’re what I really want to do.
If I have a child I know what I’d tell them: find what you love, what you’re good at, and put everything into it. Life will grow from that. Set your foundation in your career or your aspirations or whatever and everything else will come.
When I was about 7 years old I remember being at school and the teacher asked the dreaded question… what do you want to be when you grow up? I was pretty indecisive, even back then, but there was always one constant; my love of cats. One time I exclaimed that I’d like to own a cattery. I got laughed at, everyone thought I was joking.
Now, when I scroll through the endless jobs that, for some reason or another I’m not qualified for (usually lack of experience), I think about that cattery. I’ve got it all planned out; how the cat lodgings will be incorporated into my back yard, what new fences will be needed to ensure security, how many cats can be housed, how it’ll run, what it will be called. It will happen, one day. I wonder, if I hadn’t have been laughed at, would it exist already, would I have gone down an animal care route?
Between the ages of 11 and 14 I went to an all girls school and we had a careers session. We were told; decide what you want to do with your life and find out about it. I wanted to do archeology. I was immediately put down and told to forget it, there’s no jobs for women in archeology, so I did. Wish I hadn’t.
I don’t regret the direction I took, nor do I wish things were any different. I just spent so much time in my 20s thinking that I had to be self-sufficient and just earn money that I never really took the time to invest in what I really wanted to do. I don’t intend to make that mistake again.