4.13.2017

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?


I finished Alyssa Mastromonaco's book Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House (terrible title!) last week. She's funny and I was fascinated with her career and what it was like to work with Obama, but her tips weren't all that informative and I really wish the book was organized better. But I still enjoyed it and it got me thinking about my own career, or lack thereof.

Alyssa was born in 1976. (I was born in 1979.)

She interned and campaigned for Representative Bernie Sanders in college. (I campaigned for Representative Rick Larsen in college.)

She graduated from college with a BA in political Science. (So did I.)

She was inspired to work in government, but couldn't find a job and became a real estate investment trust paralegal. (Same, but I became a criminal defense paralegal.)

In 2000 she became staff assistant to Senator John Kerry and eventually became the Director of Scheduling for his presidential campaign. (I volunteered on his presidential campaign). 

In 2008, after being the Director of Scheduling for Senator Barack Obama and Political Director for Obama's PAC and presidential campaign, she was appointed Director of Scheduling and Advance for President Obama's administration. (I got pregnant, quit my job, and had a baby.)

In 2011, she was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and left her job in 2014. Then she was hired as a contributing editor at Marie Claire, joined Vice Media as Chief Operating Officer, and wrote this book. (I had another baby.)

In another world, her job would have been a dream for me. Let's go back.

From five years old through junior high, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. In high school, after obsessively watching ER, I decided I wanted to become a nurse. I got a small scholarship and went to the community college in my hometown because it was cheap, I could live at home, my boyfriend would be going there with me, and it actually had a really good nursing program.

I didn't take it seriously though. My boyfriend and I broke up before graduation and I got with a new guy two months later. He didn't have a conventional job (he was a concert promoter for local shows) and I did see him much, so I stayed up late and skipped classes. I also realized that nursing really wasn't for me. It's not exciting or romantic or anything, you guys! Since I didn't know what I wanted to do, I dropped out halfway through my first year and worked at a day care full time instead.

I enrolled in the same community college the next fall and decided to go back to teaching. I was awesome with kids, I loved my job (I was co-teaching kindergarten at this point), and I could get my AA before transferring to a university to get my degree in elementary education/history. I had a goal in mind, I was determined this time around, and it helped that my friends were in the same boat. (My group of girls were a grade younger than me, so I was sort of just f*cking around until they caught up.)

My boyfriend and I were doing this horrible on-again, off-again thing and I didn't see a future with him. We moved into houses with our individual groups of friends and problems persisted until he ghosted me one day. No joke. He stopped coming over and avoided my calls for a week before a mutual friend told me he has a new girlfriend. WTF? I was sad about it, but we had both treated each other pretty poorly by the end and I knew I was better off focusing on myself.

I got my AA on time, moved on to my university, and applied for the education program. Halfway through my first year I took an education class that really opened my eyes. I realized I didn't want to be a teacher either! What was I going to do now?! I was already taking some political science classes for my history major and loved them. I also got involved in campaigning and loved that too. I kinda wanted to do it for a living. So I changed my major to political science and dreamed about moving to New York City or San Francisco to become a campaign manager or field organizer for high profile elections.

But then, I fell in love with a guy who I did see a future with. Enter Jacob. (Awwww!) We'd been together for nearly two years by the time I graduated (six months late because of that major swap) and he wanted me to move in with him, back in our hometown. So I did. I worked part time at the same day care center, went to another university to get my paralegal certificate, worked in criminal defense for five years, then had some kids.

While I read Mastromonaco's book I couldn't help but think of what might have been. And now that I want to go back to work this fall, it got me thinking about what might be. To be honest, I feel as confused as I did when I was 18. I don't want to work full time and I won't commute. I'm incredibly lucky to have that option and because I have a child with (mild) special needs, I want to be present as much as possible. I also know that I want a job that fulfills me and isn't just a paycheck. I'm not ruling out criminal defense, because I strongly believed in what I was doing, but part time jobs in that area are hard to find. I just know I want something that helps people or gives back or makes me feel like I'm contributing, even just in my small town.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you take a different path?

5 comments:

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

I did a late major switch but made it work to graduate on time. I feel like I've spent most of my life not knowing what I want to be and actually being okay with that. I am not a passionate career person. I need the paychecks and want to not hate it, and I've been lucky in those regards.

Jo said...

All I ever wanted to to was teach. Spent most vacations working for my aunt at her kindergarten. Then after moving back home after six months in Germany i had to get a job to pay the bills. Brad and I got together and he was studying full time so that was it. I worked until I had Riley and then went back to work when Rourke was 2.5. I wouldn't say I live for my job but it pays the bills, the benefits are great so I'll stick with it till I win the lottery.

Misty said...

I wanted to major in Criminal Justice, become a police officer and then see where life took me. Shit happened. I still regret it. Blah!

Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand said...

My childhood dream was I wanted to be a radio dj. That didn't happen.
I bounced around college majors too and ultimately picked something that interested me (but, honestly, wasn't with a career in mind) ~ Sociology.
I am not doing something (not at all) that I thought I'd ever be doing, but I'm enjoying it, but if I'm being honest, I've never been passionate about a career path, and it shows. haha

Myra said...

Ok, did you buy this book or borrow it from a library because I CANNOT find it 😭I was all about becoming a journalism major and then thought about doing law school, but as life goes, things changed, life happened and I ended up in a totally different world. Somehow though, things are changing again and I'm bringing the writing game into the business that I just opened up! Life, huh?