At my fortieth birthday party, my husband described me (in his speech) as a collector of careers. He said this very affectionately but what this rather euphemistic term actually means is that I am a jack of all trades and a master of none. It is certainly true that I have tested the waters in many different fields and have definitely not, in that dreaded phrase, “fulfilled my potential”.
I was thinking about careers today when my son asked me over breakfast what I did for a living. Tempted as I was to point out to him that it was staring him in the face and that looking after him and his siblings was a full-time, grossly underpaid profession, with unpaid, daily overtime, no prospects of promotion and constant appraisals (“Mummy, why haven’t you washed my football kit?”, “Mummy, you were 30 seconds late picking me up from school again”, “You know I hate fish pie”) without any hope of those new trendy corporate 360 degree appraisals (“Son, Why do you insist on calling me mate? “Son, what did your last slave die of?”).
While all this was going through my head, I think I sighed and said that my job was looking after them at the moment – the best job in the world (I think my fingers might have been crossed at that point). My son then asked me whether I had ever worked (I’m assuming that he felt that looking after them did not count as “work”). I took him through a potted career history moving seamlessly from banking, through speechwriting, through teaching to life coaching – even if I say so myself, I really have managed an alphabet of careers in my forty years. At this point, he lost interest and turned his attention to flicking honey cheerios at his sister.
What he didn’t ask is what I wanted to do in the future when they no longer needed me to be there 24/7. I wouldn’t of course expect him to be remotely interested in this question at his young age but it got me thinking. I know what I want to do but I just don’t know if I can and how to get myself started – I want to write and I guess this blogging lark is my small beginnings. I’ve always wanted to write and while some dream of being in films, on TV, being a doctor, lawyer…whatever, I always from a very young age wanted to see something I had written in print with some glamorous pseudonym on the front cover. Perhaps this is the year when I finally start to put the wheels in motion for this particular ambition – to be honest, right now, I’d settle for writing a column for any publication at all – Deep Sea Divers Monthly or Hair Removal Weekly – not fussy!
What did you want to do when you grew up? I remember my sister, at about age 5, having very clear and very lofty career aspirations – she wanted to be a train driver and if that wasn’t possible, a burglar. I can tell you that she is definitely not the former and as far as I can be sure not the latter either. I can’t remember what I wanted to be at that age – I think my main ambition was to make it to Mary in the Nativity (never realised I’m afraid) but I do know that as I got older and started choosing subjects that would influence a career decision, I was very envious of those who knew exactly what career path they wanted to follow. I would have loved to have been able to announce airily that I was going to be a human rights lawyer or a neurosurgeon or particle physicist but I never really had a clear career path. I just knew that I hoped I would end up writing.
So for the moment I will get on with the day job (what I do for a living as far as my children are concerned) and keep hoping that one day I shall fulfil my potential (there’s that expression again that I absolutely loathe) and who knows perhaps that opportunity to write for Beer Glass Collectors Monthly will one day drop onto my desk!