With the new year approaching, my mind always turns to dreams of a "better" job. I like what I do, just not who I do it for. And more money and better benefits would be a welcome addition to the workplace mix.
But when I think back, I was never one of those teenagers who dreamed of having an exotic profession ... or a frantic kid who wanted to be a cowboy one minute and an astronaut five seconds later. I think I took a practical approach to career planning. I was never a strong swimmer, so a marine biologist or lifeguard were never solid job options. I also never really enjoyed animals or plants growing up so veterinarian science and botany were out. I loved riding go carts and going really fast like a race car driver but I never wanted to be one ... the insurance premiums would suck! Likewise, I loved roller coasters, but never EVER considered becoming a structural engineer. Or a carnival worker!
When I was about 11, I read an Avengers comic book and developed a boy crush on a character named Hank Pym. At the time, he called himself "Goliath" and could grow to giant proportions. He was a big kid ... like me! But although Hank made a great hero, he was a scientist at heart and often solved the problem at hand with good old-fashioned brainpower. His ordinary job title was "biochemist" so that was what I was going to be.
So for several years, I studied chemistry, physics, biology, anatomy and physiology, and every science the public schools had to offer. I even convinced my parents to send me to "Science Camp" at a nearby college two summers in a row to add to my range of "biochemical" experiences. And it couldn't have been cheap!!
But then at the end of my sophomore year I took a high school drawing class to fulfil a graduation requirement. I had always liked art and my mother, although completely self-taught, was a gifted sketcher and painter. As a child, I was always messing with paints and crayons and chalks. That first class proved to be an awakening. It was like one side of my brain ... the left side believed to be in a dominant position for the logic and calculating skills involved in mathematics and the sciences ... tightened up and the other hemisphere ... the right side linked to the creativity and spatial abilities at the heart of the arts and music ... blossomed open.
So for me, the next two years were crammed with every drawing, painting, pottery, computer art, and printmaking course I could squeeze in. And I began assembling a portfolio. Looking back I realize my work was minor ... pitiful in some respects. And I applied to some prestigious art schools who must have LOLed at my entrance submissions. But regardless, the creative shift encouraged me to attend a decent state university and gain solid design skills and aptitudes that pushed me toward the fields of advertising and marketing.
I remember sending my first college application away and my Mom saying how she wasn't surprised at all that I had chosen to study design. "You were always my most creative kid," she said to me privately. "When you were all little, the other three loved to watch TV but would run around during commercials and get snacks and use the bathroom. But you ... YOU never gave TV a second look until the commercials started. Then you plopped yourself on the floor and told all the other kids to shut up!!"
POINT OF RANT: I still would have made a great scientist!!