by Sara Curtiss
What do you want to be when you grow up? I bet when you were a kid, you had a solid answer to that. Are you doing that job now? What changed? What path has life taken you on?
For the past seven years, I have been a high school science teacher, but now the joy was gone. I discovered that I no longer wanted to be a classroom teacher. With this realization came the inevitable question, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”
It is a hard question to answer. When we are kids, it was simple: fireman, doctor, school bus driver. Jobs are fun when we were kids. They were grown up and exciting. There wasn’t the reality of health benefits, career ladders, salaries, or coworkers. There wasn’t any stigma of job position or wealth. My sister wanted to be a garbage man because she thought that riding on the back of the garbage truck would be a blast. Being a fireman is fun because you get to slide down the pole and be a hero. I wanted to be a marine biologist so that I could swim with the dolphins.
When you start to grow up, you realize how complicated those job dreams can be. You can’t walk in on the first day and get your dream job. There is training and learning that you need to do to get there. You really do have to climb that ladder and know someone on the inside.
You also realize how many jobs there are out there. Oh you want to go into IT? There are a gazillion jobs that are in the IT field so which area do you want to specialize in? Computers, security, insurance, research, etc? The questions get more and more specific, and for me, more and more confusing. Add to this the fact that you have to be good at what you do to the successful and the question becomes harder than organic chemistry class. Somewhere in all of this, you lose sight of that childhood job fantasy.
Job searching is like online dating but your resume needs to be perfect and your profile picture can’t have you enjoying the latest party. There are numerous websites devoted to job hunting and you have to be on all of them to have a chance. Applying to other jobs was like having a second job. It took up hours out of each day and added heaps of stress to my life. Each time I would get a response from a potential employer, I poured my heart and soul into trying to land that job. When that didn’t work, I applied in bulk to anything and everything that sounded remotely interesting or that I would be good at.
My saving grace came in the form of my father who helped me get an introduction at a pharmaceutical company who had open positions in regulatory affairs. It was a job I knew nothing about but I could apply my science background and organizational skills to. Three fabulous interviews later and I got offered a job. The only caveat: I had to relocate to Nashville, Tennessee.
So now there are two adventures in one; a city change and a career change. I love Chicago and all of the time that I have spent there. I found a life-long friend, found a great cocktail bar, ate way too much delicious food and ogled over beautiful city and lake views. I did not want to leave, but sometimes, life takes us on a journey that we were not told about in advance.
I don’t know where this adventure will lead me, but hopefully one step closer to answering that inevitable question “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Goodbye Sara! I still remember the day we met at a “Girls New to Chicago” meet-up event, you ordered fish tacos I’m pretty sure (which has since became a defining trademark of our friendship), followed by endless reminders of what your “gluten free” restriction includes. Thank you for all the nights at Berkshire, spontaneous adventures, and especially for being the better (calmer) half when I almost missed my flight back to Hong Kong.
All the best with your move to Nashville and can’t wait to visit! You better know all the good spots by the time I visit 😉
With love, Steph