Childhood Memories Friday: Jobs and the Circle of Life

IU Memorial Union

Earlier this week, I was at Media Day at the zoo, as a freelance writer for our local tourism website. I asked the director about the name of the zoo’s male lion that died last year, and as I jotted it down, I thought … wow. I’m kind of like a journalist.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo lions

Let me explain. When I went to college, 34 years ago now, I originally intended to major in journalism. I liked to write, after all. I took the first few courses in the major. In one of them, we were assigned to interview someone from a local business and write an article based on that interview. I interviewed Blast Off Balloons, a company I’m sad to see is still around. Sad because, while I felt the interview and article writing went well, the company apparently did not. When the professor sent the article to them for a review, they returned it with really poor feedback. I specifically remember them writing, “Frankly, I would give a third grader a poor grade on this.”

WOW. Do you know what a comment like that did to a sensitive, aspiring journalist? If you said it would cause her to change her major, you’d be right. I never did learn what problem the company had with my article. The professor said I should contact them to find out their issues, but I never did. Honestly, if someone dissed you like that, would you be too anxious to talk to them again? I find it hard to believe that an article by an 19-year-old with perfectionist tendencies could be that awful in the eyes of a small place selling balloon bouquets, but enough about that. Do I still sound bitter?

So anyway, it was interesting to me that, decades later, things have arranged themselves so that I kind of am a journalist these days.

Paths not taken

That’s not the only field that this situation has happened in. After journalism, I had a brief time of majoring in history. And, guess what? My best-selling book is about a historical German king.

I never spent time as a music major, but while I was a teen, my piano teacher recommended that I do that. Guess what I spend a lot of time doing now? Teaching piano lessons.

Ironically, the field I did end up majoring in — retail merchandising — is one that I worked in only briefly. Other than part-time jobs, I worked retail full-time for just nine months after college graduation.

My point in all this is that it’s interesting to see the paths our lives take. Often, the things that interest us in our childhood and adolescence end up playing a big role in our lives later on, whether they end up being our means of livelihood or not.

So how about you — did you ever want to do something, only to take a detour and end up doing something similar years later?



6 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Jobs and the Circle of Life

  1. I put some serious time this morning into looking up a quote of my Great Uncle Bill Kamman’s.

    “Hawthorne states in his “Twice-told-Tales” that ‘We can be but partially acquainted even with the events which actually influence our course through life, and our final destiny.’
    Little did I suspect when I used to travel at night by rail through Pittsburgh with its light festooned hills that some day I would get off the train and actually live there for over 36 years. Had I suspected that I was to make my living largely by teaching German chemical readings, I might have studied chemistry at college. We are to an extent masters of our destiny but how often have we come near being the slaves of it.”

    I have thought of his words so often in my life!

  2. I knew nothing about your desire to go into journalism, but I’ll always be sorry that you didn’t. I think you would have done such a good job in that field. I’d like to smack the person who made that comment on your paper! (I can’t believe I just wrote that.) I wonder if he/she had any idea what a negative impact that one comment might have on your life. Please continue to pursue your career as a journalist.

    From the time I began to talk, I wanted to be a nurse, according to my mother. So I pursued exactly what I said I wanted to pursue. But I also wanted to write, at a later age, and I’ve done lots of that, although not full time. I enjoy it to this day.

  3. Remember my story? 1 semester a full tenured professor read a part of my paper out as an excellent example, but the next semester a grad student t.a. in an aptly themed course on theter if the absurd (I took the 2 semesters of writing & lot instead of composition) said I couldn’t write. Even though a later paper was nominated (but did not win) for an award, I have up writing. But I loved research and that led me to libraries. Today I’m a librarian AND writer!

  4. It would have been interesting to find out what the company’s problem was with what you wrote, but I understand feeling too intimidated to ask, especially after such a comment. I wanted to major in English, but thought there wouldn’t be much I could do with it. (Sigh, I’d like to give my college-age self a good talking to now.) I noticed a lot of girls in my school didn’t go on to college, so I thought maybe Home Economics Education would be good and practical – I could teach girls how to run their homes. But Home Economics in college doesn’t center on the home so much, not even in a Christian college, and I always felt like I fell short in that major – which, being Home Ec., made me feel I was falling short as a woman. Then, by the time I graduated, the last thing I wanted to do was teach. Thankfully these days students get a lot more practice teaching done before they get to student teaching at the end, so they have more time to see if that’s really for them. I felt for years like perhaps I had missed the Lord’s will for my life and wasted my college time and money. But as I thought over it and talked it over with my husband, I decided maybe the Lord’s hand was in it after all. My mom, though I loved her dearly, was not very domestic. She worked full time and commuted across Houston, leaving not much time and energy for anything else. So I think how much more of a bumpkin I would have been without some of those Home Ec. courses. Plus there were courses on family and child care that were very helpful, especially as I had not come from a Christian home, and I was in a Christian college. And though I never taught in a school setting, I did home school for four years, taught various levels of Sunday School for several years, and I think my education courses did help my general “people skills.” I always wanted to write, and I am doing that now with a church ladies’ newsletter, a few magazine and newspaper articles, and blog – maybe something more some day. I did minor in English, so that helped, and there weren’t as many writing courses and majors then as there are now, so I don’t know that I would have gotten much more writing instruction then, anyway.

  5. What an interesting timeline of events in deciding what you really wanted to pursue! I think that you have succeeded in getting it right for you with the writing and music teacher thing. 🙂
    As for me, I was told by my well-respected high school principal (who had also been my algebra teacher) that I should go to college and become a teacher myself. He said that after we had all had aptitude tests in addition to the traditional tests of basic skills. Also, Mr. Hinton knew that I was a good student and the head of my class in line for valedictorian. So I actually did follow his advice and I became an elementary teacher, which was my true calling in life.
    You may be surprised to learn that I also loved journalism! I wrote for the college newspaper, The Huntingtonian. It was hard work doing the research for my column, but it was fun. I once started a book and quit writing it after 28 chapters. Always thought that I would take it up again in my retirement years, but it hasn’t happened yet. 🙂 At one time I even thought that becoming a photojournalist and traveling the world sounded appealing. Now I shudder at that idea when I see on TV how dangerous it is to have such a career. For the most part, I have always been satisfied having been an elementary teacher for 34 years and a piano teacher for 12 more years after that. I always loved school and playing the piano, so my life’s dream has been fulfilled.

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