I just read a post by a young person who was totally freaked out by making up her mind about what career to choose, because that would be the one thing she would be doing for the rest of her life. Newsflash: For most people it isn’t. Life happens and you end up doing something completely different than you were thinking you would.
I am a social worker by training. After my Abitur in Germany, I went to college and got a Diploma as a Social Pedagog. I was specialized in education and rehabilitation. With that I worked for several years in a group home for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities. These group homes take care of people with disabilities who are too severely disabled to be taken care of at home, no matter how many additional services are offered. So I pushed wheelchairs, wiped butts, dealt with epileptic seizures and aberrant behavior, did a whole lot of paperwork, did therapeutic interventions, educated parents and collaborated with all the specialists involved. It was a tough job and I had to do shifts. Nevertheless, I was good at it and climbed the promotion ladder pretty quickly.
Then my husband finished his physics diploma and wanted to go on to get a doctorate. Candidacy opportunities were dismally scarce in Germany, therefore we looked at other countries. He ended up finding opportunity in America. So I quit my job, we got ready to go to America and now the question was, what would I do? I thought getting a Ph.D. would be cool, so I applied for one in social work along with every place he applied for one in physics. We got accepted and went. Four and a half years later we both had a Ph.D., but I had hiring problems, because I didn’t have an MSW. My hubby didn’t. So we went and concentrated on his career while I did the having babies thing. Therefore I turned into a Sahm, which is exactly what my own mother was and what she had always envisioned for me. My dad would go so far to say that with just the right connections I might be able to get a cashier job at Rewe (A Wal-Mart type store). I do think that I did a bit better than that.
Nowadays I am concentrating on writing. I love to write. I have always written. Writing came natural to me and reading saved my life. Yet, when I was younger I never considered it as a career option. It was not considered real work in my family of origin. My dad was a welder. That was considered real work. I never thought that I could go out and learn something so selfish.
Of course nowadays I think it would be great to have a degree in literature. Writing fiction is my passion and it would be nice to know which part of it is my original voice and which part is just bad grammar or syntax. However, I do not regret all the years I spent as a social worker, a student, and a mom (The last one being an ongoing job that will never cease to amaze me). I have learned so much, seen so many things, and found a multitude of topics and causes that I can explore. It was a great writing education in itself.
So, am I doing now what I trained for? No. And I am just one of the many examples of life out there. So, if you are making career choices, know that even with the best laid plans, you might end up somewhere else and that is okay. You do the best you can and life will take care of the rest. Take some pressure off, you are allowed to change your mind.