Ever wonder if you chose the right career? Not because you don’t like what you’re doing but because you see another job and think “That would be fun,” or “Wonder if I could’ve done that.”
I’m a reporter/journalist/writer but I didn’t really choose it as much as I eliminated everything else and writing is what was left. More than writing, really, but creative communication via words, photos, graphics, publications, etc.
My earliest writing recollection is the summer after third grade. I was bored and mom bought me one of those creative writing workbooks. I remember sitting in my room doing the writing exercises and it was so much fun! Sometime in high school I started reading the newspaper and collecting newspaper articles that interested me. In 10th grade I joined the high school yearbook staff and thoroughly enjoyed the photography and page layout (the writing was so-so.)
As college neared, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but had in mind something with communication (my high school dream was to move to New York City and work for Seventeen magazine), teaching or accounting. (My mom worked for an accountant so I thought I could a job where she worked.)
Through a series of interventions, including marrying an engineer and following his career to an area with a university that had a real journalism program, I got a degree in journalism and started writing for newspapers. More serendipitous events led to writing/communication jobs with Target and now NASA.
But I sometimes wonder, is it too late to do anything different? I’ve often thought it would be fun to be a waitress. Sure it’s hard work, on your feet all day, and dealing with customers for a low hourly rate and relying on tips. But I’m a people person, so working with customers wouldn’t be that bad? Or how about being a lawyer. I’m pretty argumentative and love watching lawyers do their thing on court shows. (I grew up watching Andy Griffith on Matlock and watch all versions of Law & Order today.)
It’d be neat if you could do like that guy on the early ’90s show “Quantum Leap” where he leaped from person to person, a waitress one day, a lawyer the next. At least being a writer you can kind of live vicariously through the people you write about it. Write about a waitress and get a taste for that life. Write about a lawyer and see what that’s all about. Or, as I do now, right about a scientist or an astronaut and get roped in to the excitment of what they do. Writing about what other people do is probably pretty close to “quantum leaping” with the luxury of being able to go back to where you started and do it all over again.