Tuesday, October 05, 2010

When I Grow Up

"So Howard, what do you want to be when you grow up?" my father asks.

I pause for a few seconds to contemplate my forthcoming answer while our car rolls to a stop at a red light. As I listen to the murmur of the idling engine, I notice my father looking at me through the rear-view mirror, my mother smiling at me from the passenger seat, and my sister gawking at me to my right in the backseat.

"Well?" my mother asks.

My eyes light up and I take a deep breath and scream at the top of my lungs, "FIRE ENGINE!" Before I realize what I just said, the car bursts into laughter and I cover my mouth, suddenly feeling sheepish. The feeling is fleeting and soon enough, I'm laughing along with tears coming out my eyes.

Fire Engine

"Really, Howard? You want to be a fire engine? Do you want someone to drive you?"
My father makes siren noises.

"No! I meant firefighter!"
"Why do you want to be a firefighter?"
"Because they're brave, strong, aren't afraid of danger, and save people."
"OK. Good reason."
My father continues to make siren noises.

Soon, the light turns green and the car presses forward with an air of hilarity in the cabin.

The joys of being 6.

It's now been 20 years since I was first asked that question and I can honestly say that as a grown up I did not become a fire engine or a firefighter. What happened? I have no idea, but it's not like the job description or characteristics for a firefighter has changed. However, it's funny how a question you could answer within seconds as a kid could take much longer to answer as an adult.

I really envy those who figured out their passion or "life calling" early in life and have stuck with it. They wake up each day knowing exactly what they want to do, and take whatever steps necessary to achieve it. For those of us not yet fortunate to have found our calling yet, it seems to be a mixed bag. You might decide to pursue a certain career for practical reasons and end up hating it, you might do a variety of oddjobs just to get by, you might do nothing, you might try a new career every year, the possibilities are endless.

For me, I certainly enjoy IT because it's dynamic and always changing, so I have the ability to learn new things to satiate my ADD and to implement my own designs. However, I can't say I love it, like I can see with some people such as artists, traders, or even doctors. They seem to genuinely enjoy what they do and their careers are on their mind 24/7, and I'm not sure I can relate. Am I alone in feeling this way?

Maybe I'm an idealist and I should temper my expectations, or maybe I just see the side of these people that I want to see, or maybe they really do love what they do. Studies say that my generation (Generation Y, Millennials) has a perceived sense of entitlement due to all the opportunities and political correctness we've grown accustomed to in our youth. Because of this, we may switch careers more often or try to change "rules" in the workplace.

Fair argument, but is there any truth to it? Maybe before, but I don't know about now with the economic downturn in America (I believe it's also an "issue" in Australia, though there is no economic downturn here.) A job is a job and people may have to put off whatever dreams or expectations they have. In any case, I've concluded for the time being that I have yet to find my "calling," but I do know what I enjoy and how to support what I enjoy through my selected career (PLEASE HIRE ME!) I don't think that will change much for the time being, and I'm not sure it ever will. Maybe I'll grow out of it once I hit the milestone of 30 years old, maybe not.

At least I know where I want to be.

Here, in Sydney.


At December 18, 2010 at 6:51 AM , Blogger karentl said...

so no more slideshow pictures?

At December 19, 2010 at 4:23 PM , Blogger Howard said...

from a distance..


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