“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”—Lloyd Dobler
I’ve been thinking back to that college freshman I was 26 years ago. That girl knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life…..well, she thought she did. I was determined to be Clarice Starling from The Silence of the Lambs. I was going to be a pistol-packing, strong, daring FBI agent for the Behavioral Analysis Unit, or in today’s terms, the people from Criminal Minds. I had no doubt that one day I would be catching serial killers and interviewing them from Death Row. Even as a young child I had a macabre fascination with criminals and crime. I read true crime books in elementary school, did reports on serial killers, gave speeches against Capital Punishment, and did my Senior English Paper on Jack the Ripper. Yeah, I was that girl.
So, as I stepped into the halls of my college in New Jersey, I had no doubts or hesitations. I majored in Criminal Justice and Psychology and knew exactly what my career path was. I didn’t want a family, no husband or children, so no ties to hold me back as I worked my way up in the FBI. But, something happened that year. Fear took over. As I started delving deeper into the FBI requirements, I questioned my own physical and mental strength. Then, I went to visit a prison and spoke to the psychologist there, he laid it out on the line for me. “You’ll be one of the only women they will see during their sentences.” “There’s a high risk you will be assaulted.” He went on and on and pulled no punches. Suddenly the life and career I wanted seemed so scary. (Yeah, I should have thought of that earlier, right?) I finished out that year. Then, I quit. I quit because of fear and self-doubt.
From there, I transferred to another school closer to home and declared Journalism as my major. English and writing was always my second choice, since I had been writing since I was a child and was always told I excelled at it. But, no…English was too safe. But when I decided against being the next FBI super agent, I fell back to what I knew. I fell back to the safe place of Journalism. I loved it. I had written for the paper freshman year and was on staff of the newspaper my sophomore year. Editing and writing were a safe place for me. And they were therapeutic. And I was good at it and no one was going to shoot me—well, some editors I wasn’t so sure of!
Every job I’ve had since graduating has involved some form of writing: Marketing, editing, managing a publishing company’s editorial division, being an executive assistant, advising two student newspapers, serving as Poet Laureate. Part of every job has been writing. But recently I’ve been doubting my career choices. Am I a writer? Am I a journalist? Am I crazy? Short answer: I’m having a mid-life crisis. Yes, instead of buying a fancy car of my dreams (which I did two years ago anyway), I’m doubting who I am and where I want to be.
Honestly, I have no idea what exactly I want to do. I had my dream job and I wasn’t happy. So, what exactly should I do with the rest of my life? What am I good at? What makes me happy? I hope you’ll stay tuned as I try to answer those questions. I’m not who I was at 18 or even who I was in my 20’s when I graduated college. I’ve grown. I’ve adapted. I’ve changed….a lot. So, I ask myself, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”