From The Natural
Pop Fisher: You know my mama wanted me to be a farmer.
Roy Hobbs: My dad wanted me to be a baseball player.
Just a week ago I posted a query about your dreams about what you wanted "to be" when you were a child.
And now I'm going to those troublesome teen years.
About this time, coinciding really with entering junior high school, or middle school as it apparently is more commonly called, this question comes up with increasingly frequency in direct and implied fashion for nearly everyone. "What are your plans?" "What do you want to do?" Everyone has experienced it. For many people, for the first time in their lives they're forced to consider that question. Indeed, the education system itself is partially geared towards helping you to make that decision, or should I say forcing you to make it?
And I'm not necessarily saying that's bad, I'm just saying it occurs.
It's really at this stage that I start to take some people seriously when they declare that their later vocations were their earlier goals. As earlier noted, when somebody tells me "I've always wanted to be a lawyer, doctor, accountant" etc., I think "oh bull". But if somebody tells me that they formed that goal in high school or middle school I credit it.
But how often do those high school dreams pan out? I wonder.
When I was in middle school I didn't have any sort of really defined career goals. I had a bunch of potential aspirations. This carried on, really, to high school, or at least up to my senior year of high school. I thought about entering the service. . .maybe the Army. . maybe the Marine Corps. . . maybe the Air Force (the Navy always struck me as something I didn't want to do) but by the time I was in middle school that childhood aspiration had really declined a great deal. By the time I was in the later stages of high school I knew that what I really wanted to do was to be a rancher, a particularly frustrating goal if deeply felt, which it was, and you live in the later part of the 20th Century. By that time I was well aware that buying ranch land was out of sight for my family and that homesteading had ended in 1932. That didn't keep me, however, from investigating northern Canada (homesteading, oddly enough, in the far north had just been halted) and Alaska (where it still goes on, on a state level, but where it's frankly geared towards the hobbyist and outdoorsman, not the real farmer). So that was clearly out. So what then?
Well, clearly, an outdoor occupation.
The one I strongly considered was becoming a game warden. Indeed, by the time I was a senior in high school I'd decided to become a game warden.
I'm not a game warden.
I changed my mind on that for the simple reason that my father noted that there were a lot of guys around here with wildlife management degrees who weren't working in that field, which was likely true. In retrospect, that was an example of making a big decision on little information and, hindsight being 20/20, I doubt it was the right decision. The field I did enter involved an extremely difficult course of study and ended up in no employment anyhow, not necessarily a better result. Indeed, likely a worse one.
Sometime around my senior year I vaguely decided to enter the field of geology. And I do mean vague as I can't recall it every being a hard and fast decision at that point and it didn't really fix until I was in college. Geology, I thought, was an obviously outdoor career. That was my reason for entering it; that and that my mother used to note, probably in the form of encouragement, that I was good at science. I was, but I was never any good at math, and that meant I ended up taking a lot of math in college, but I also ended up doing fairly well at it.
One thing I was good at was writing, and I seriously thought about trying to become a writer. I knew even then, however, that breaking into writing in a serious way was a tough thing to do. I really wanted to write history, but a person can't really just write history. I briefly considered majoring in history in college but I didn't know where I could take that, so I didn't (again, as it happens it would have qualified me as much for my ultimate occupation as my geology degree did). When I was in high school I was on the school newspaper for a year and I entertained trying to be a newspaper writer, but for whatever reason its an aspiration I dropped fairly quickly.
So returning to the question, what did you want to do as a teenager, and are you that? Of the five things I thought I wanted to be when I was a teenager; solider, game warden, writer, geologist, and rancher, I've been three on a part time basis. I guess those aspirations sort of worked out, but sort of not. Being a part time soldier worked out well, but being a part time rancher was something that came late and never fully. I've written quite a large number of magazine articles and one book, but I have found that my occupation precludes me from really having the time I need to write history like I want to. And I've started a novel, but it's slow moving and has been slow moving for years. Again, a writer needs time to write.
Well, I don't know that there are any.
How about you? What did you want to do, and did you do that?