In my formative years as a child I was never given any clear direction in regards to a career path. I’m not saying this as a slight against my parents as I don’t think they really knew or had the same guidance when they were younger. My father was a mechanic and while I grew up around him in the garage I don’t ever remember him teaching me the trade nor trying to push me in that direction. My mother was 22 years old when she had me so she had no real world experience to begin with.
My parents got divorced when I was nine years old. My mother at the age of 31 began trying to figure out her own thingand my father, who I lived with, continued in not taking an active role in my future developement. Shortly there after I moved into my teenage years and my relationship with my father deteriorated and never recovered. I only really saw my mother on the weekends so there wasn’t a lot of time to discuss my career paths.
I was never really given any guidance not only from my parents but from anyone. As a child I wanted to be one of two things; I wanted to be either an astronaut or Luke Skywalker (not necessarily in that order). However, I was also a terrible student for reasons which we can get into another time) and therefore was never really put on any sort of the academic radar that would lead someone to want to help me forge a path forward. I don’t know if I ever spoke to my guidance counselor and in high school.
In my life I’ve worked multiple jobs. My first job was cleaning a parking lot. I have been a paperboy. I’ve worked in the food service industry. I worked in supermarkets. I was a door-to-door salesman selling fire extinguishers. I worked in art store. I was a stained-glass artist. I’ve worked in the corporate environment in multiple capacities (procurement, information technology, software instructor, graphic designer). I’m currently a health coach and a part-time cheese monger in a cheese shop.
I’ve done all of these things because I never had a clear path. I never remember having the conversations of what I wanted to be when I grew up and then having them try to help me along that path. You go through life you get to a certain stage and think why did I take these paths that I took? I’m 49 years old and I only considered becoming a health coach as a career within the past couple years. It’s not what I set out to be when I was younger.
I wonder how many other people are out there like me. How many of us were never given any real guidance or set on any sort of path? There’s so many careers out there that I didn’t know existed and nobody was there to help me along and tell me about them. I’m not going to point the finger at everybody else and not shoulder any of the blame. Like I said, I wasn’t a great student and probably wasn’t listening to authority very well as a teenager. I’m probably just as much to blame as any of the adults around me. I do feel like there’s so many things that I could have done in my life had I been exposed to them. I didn’t know all the opportunities that were available to me.
If you are a parent, a teacher, a guardian, an aunt, an uncle or a sibling and you see a child that has little to no direction on what they want to do have conversations with them. Bring it up and ask them. I did it with my niece who is an artist and wants to help people. I pointed her in direction of art therapy. I’m not sure if she will go that route but I at least pointed her in the direction and let her know that this is something that exist. A lot of times people don’t know that careers even exist so they have no idea that it’s something they could be doing.
It’s not always easy to think about what a child is going to want to be doing as a career in 30 years later so provide as much guidance whenever you can. They may not want to hear it now but will appreciate it later.