I have an old workbook from first grade somewhere in my parents’ house – in it, I’ve drawn a picture of my dad, accurately representing his occupation: roller-skating pirate. Now, perhaps my dad did dabble in some piracy before falling into the more lucrative yet ordinary role of college professor (you’d have to ask him). Or, that seemed like a much cooler job for my dad to have. As a kid, I pretty much had no idea what exactly my parents did – or how old they were. I don’t even think I knew what job I wanted to have when I grew up– there were too many other things I wanted to do that would probably have gotten in the way.
When I visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last year, I was pretty pissed. There were inspirational videos of astronauts & smiling kids who professed their love for exploring space, and visiting other planets to meet the aliens there. Won’t anyone break the news to these poor kids that NASA’s shutting down its space program, and that they’re very unlikely to get into space at all? In all honesty, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging kids to pursue each and every interest they have, because sooner or later a math teacher will come along and tell you that you can’t do math because you’re a girl, or you realize you’re 150 pounds soaking wet and will never be an [insert football position that’s not QB].
Your biggest asset is your ability to do work and earn money over the course of your lifetime – whether this is through being an accountant or a firefighter cowboy, as predicted in elementary school. The best way to grow your portfolio is to take precautions by diversifying and investing wisely, and continually adding money to your account. So, in life terms, this would entail investing in yourself by going to school, studying across a variety of areas to improve your critical thinking while accumulating skills, and continuing to better yourself as an adult by taking on challenging work. I was all about the diversification in college (and also avoiding 9:30am classes) – I took courses that I thought were interesting, convinced that if I could do math and write, I would find a job somewhere. Senior year, I altered my resume in at least 10 different ways to apply for a variety of jobs. I chose my job based on my life heuristic: go where there are smart, interesting people.
Doesn’t it seem contradictory that to diversify your abilities and interests (and overall awesomeness), you need to pursue many avenues and experiences, yet society values people who know where they want to end up, who know where they want their career to take them? I, for one, would not be opposed to following in my dad’s footsteps – roller-skating pirate, then college professor.