Knowing What You Want To Do When You “Grow Up”

So, even though I am 20 years old and technically an Adult, I still fluctuate between ideas for what I want to do for a living.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. An author. But I didn’t know how much of that entailed selling yourself, or how scary getting your book rejected seemed. I never realized how vulnerable you make yourself when you self-publish something you will regret later because of the rush of elation of having finished a project, completely skipping the editing process. Hence, why I chose a pen name.

But then, as I got to high school and had been more exposed to my parents’ money problems, I began to worry about money, and try to plan a career path based on financial security, not what I enjoyed. I was talented in being able to learn any concept that came up in high school fairly well, so I was considering a career in scientific research or accounting and finance. And while those are nice and all, they just aren’t for me.

I had to figure that one out this year. I can usually change my results on a career aptitude test based on the career path I am leaning towards at the moment. And although my answers stay relatively the same, there are always ones that I consider more than others.

So when I was seriously considering finance I did a couple informational interviews. And I realized just how much I did not want to work in that industry. It just wasn’t for me. Mostly because a lot of it involves being a salesperson. And from my experience in retail, I knew that I felt very uncomfortable selling things to people, and that I didn’t want to do that for a living.

I have trouble with remembering math formulas and get frustrated and make simple mistakes like forgetting a negative sign so engineering, architecture, and other math-heavy careers are out, including Chemistry and Physics research.

I toured a biology lab at the Ohio State Campus back in high school and hated the smell, not to mention the idea of cleaning up after animals or dealing with dissections and creepy-crawlies or body fluids so anything in the pet industry (veterinarian, dog sitting, walking, etc.), biology research and anything medical is out. (Side note on medical stuff: both of my parents are in that industry so I have known I don’t want to be in that industry for a while.)

I also don’t want to do anything mildly dangerous or something that creates a fear response, so criminal justice is out along with a whole host of other things.

So that leaves psychology, any sort of desk job, retail, writing (which would fall into the desk job category, but also includes being super vulnerable and selling yourself, if I can put up with that), food service, customer service, and other entry level jobs as far as I can tell.

But what do I want? Preferably an isolated job where I don’t have to interact with people (the introvert that works in retail that I am), a job where I can sit and be indoors all day, and something I enjoy doing with decent pay, and if possible benefits. Something I won’t have to worry about paying the bills, eating, paying off student loans,  and still be able to afford some measure of unnecessary expenses with.

Is there such a job that exists? I’m not sure. But I am going to try writing, mostly because that’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was very young. Freelance writing is one way, and blogging is another, so I am actively pursuing those as well as continuing to write fiction and editing it so I can *eventually* publish a novel under my pen name.

I have been told that someone can change their careers late into it, but honestly that scares me. I tend to plan a head and then when the plans don’t come to fruition I get discouraged and frustrated.

Like going to college straight after high school. Didn’t happen. Like society’s expectations that I should know what  I want to do with my life and get a degree in by the time I’m 18. Didn’t happen either. Finishing a degree in 4 years. Not gonna happen.

I have this horrible habit of comparing myself to my twin brother. He WILL finish a degree in Neuroscience in 4 years. But the problem with comparing myself to him is that my parents (whether intentionally or not, I don’t know) tend to offer him a lot more of the support he needs than they do for me.

For example, he doesn’t drive, and I was expected to drive him somewhere. I told my parent’s I shouldn’t have to do that and be responsible for him. When Dad told me that it was a privilege that they gave me a car for my own use and that I could take the bus wherever I needed to go if I wasn’t going to assume the responsibility of being my brother’s chauffeur (a bit of resentful paraphrasing on my part). When I made the argument that my brother could take the bus, too, if he needed to get somewhere, Dad said, angrily “End of Conversation.”

So I can’t compare myself with him, because he has a bit more of a head start and support for where he is today where I have come very far on my own. And because of that lack of support I am running a little bit behind my “Ideal Life Schedule” that I feel as though every other person my age is on (due to Facebook). Intellectually, I know that the average person at 18 has no idea what they want to do with their lives and a lot of them don’t finish college in 4 years or go back later for another degree in something else.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I still don’t know what I want to be when I ‘grow up’, but I’m trying to figure it out. And there is no timeline for my life, and I shouldn’t compare how my life is happening to society’s timeline. Especially when I have been struggling to just survive with a mental illness these past few years.


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