This is basically the adult version of “What do you want to do when you grow up?” except that when we answer it as children it tends to be more pure, free of all conflicting thoughts like “but how can I possibly make money doing that?” or “what will so-and-so think of me if I do that?” When you answer it as a child your dream job is fueled by passion. Did you want to be an Astronaut because you were fascinated by outer space? Did you want to be a Ballerina because you loved to dance? Or maybe you wanted to be a Super Hero because the idea of coming to the rescue made you feel so good? I wanted to be an All Around Artist because I couldn’t pick just one creative pursuit, I wanted to do them all! (Or rather, what my definition of “all art” was at the time; I’ve come to understand that everything can be considered an art but that’s a topic for another blog.) I wanted to draw, paint, sculpt, sing, dance, act, write… I wanted to express my creativity in whatever form possible!
Unfortunately, the way our society is set up, somewhere in your teens you’re directed to focus on ONE THING that you plan to study in college to ultimately become your career. Some of our dream jobs seemed more realistic to the adults around us and it was easier for them to put us on the path to achieve those dreams. On the other hand, Super Hero kids may have been guided by clever parents into careers as Fireman, Policeman, Doctors or Nurses… or maybe their dreams were just pooh-poohed altogether and they became accountants. I settled on Fashion Design because it seemed like a legitimate self-run artistic career and I felt it encompassed a lot of my passions: my grandmother had taught me to sew; I’d been drawing clothing ideas for years; I loved fabric design thanks to my mom’s beautiful textile arts; creating knit and crochet fabrics and embellishing with embroidery and beads spoke to my crafty side; and I considered going the Costume Design route for even more creative potential.
I really enjoyed college because I was still free to study things outside of the main career focus, like Fashion Journalism, Jewelry Design, Photography, Figure Drawing, Art History, Acting and even Latin! (I’m a word nerd and thought it would be fun to learn a language that’s the basis for so many of the words we use today.) Once I graduated I really wanted to turn around and go right back to school for another degree. I could easily have become a perpetual student, especially loving assignments that gave me an excuse for an art project.
Instead, I began looking for jobs in my chosen field and quickly realized this was not the industry for me. The Fashion Industry is fabulous and glamorous on the outside, but ridiculously stressful and cutthroat on the inside. So, I started expanding my job search to jewelry design. It seemed to me to be a related field and I’d always loved making jewelry with my mom. (And a family friend who channels automatic writing once predicted that I would design jewelry so, that was always floating somewhere in the back of my head.) I’ve been working in the jewelry industry ever since… but as the right hand woman to a designer not a designer myself.
I’ll admit this has bothered me: I’ve been planning to run my own creative business for as long as I can remember. I had dreams of owning a funky-cool boutique filled with my designs and those of other designers I loved. At some point the focus of this dream shifted from clothing to jewelry… and eventually the idea of the boutique moved online to avoid being tied down to one location. My dreams never stopped but, they did get pushed to the background as my responsibilities grew in my job… I had less and less free time and was just too exhausted to do anything when I got home other than eat dinner, veg out in front of the TV for an hour or two and go to bed… then roll out of bed in the morning, throw on clothes, grab coffee and a quick breakfast and head back to work. I quickly got comfortable having a steady paycheck (before this I’d juggled multiple part time jobs) and the years eventually blurred together in a haze of repetition punctuated by exceptional moments.
I’ve realized that having a steady paycheck feels a bit like a trap. It’s comforting knowing that x-amount will be deposited in my account every two weeks but, I did just fine when I was hustling between three or four part time jobs and it kept things interesting. Plus, I knew I could quit one and pick up another if I got bored. This is different. I feel trapped.
I wrote the above a couple weeks ago and hesitated to post it. I didn’t plan it this way but, since I didn’t share right away, I’ve now got an update to add. I’ve been contemplating leaving my job to do my own thing for a while now and the experience of writing this post made me a little depressed: why hadn’t I done it yet? I’m not getting any younger and I want to have children someday (soonish) and I want to buy a house (preferably in California) but not in my current location… staying in my secure position wouldn’t get me any closer to my goals and if I’m going to be self-employed I need to start sooner rather than later because it can take a while to get a good income flowing and I’d like to feel financially secure before having children. (Welcome to my mind.) So, a few days after writing the earlier part of this post, I had a conversation with my boss. I told her I need a change and I’d like to transition out of her employment over the next couple months. (That was how I planned to say it but the delivery of that decision was not quite so eloquent. I was considering saying something that day but hadn’t made my mind up yet, it was instead coaxed out of me by my boss because she could tell I had something on my mind.) I’ll admit I teared up during the conversation because I felt guilty putting her in a position where she has to hire someone new, I know how much she relies on me and this will change the way her business runs… but she took it really well. That was a relief. There’s a lot that needs to be done over then next couple months and the transition won’t necessarily be easy but, I’m looking forward to starting this new chapter of my life!
Now it’s your turn to share in the comments below: What was your dream job as a child? Are you doing some form of that now or did your dreams change? If not, what’s stopping you? 🙂 Remember, even if you believe in past lives and reincarnation, this is the only life we’re consciously aware of so let’s make the most of it!