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In Which I Laugh At Myself For Having Laughed At Someone Else

A photo of one of the sculptures by Yue Minjun in Vancouver

This photograph was taken by Louise Gadd.

The set-up will be familiar to many of you. You’re at school, going about your studious day, when a teacher hands out a list of times for each pupil – you’ve got a career’s meeting. You’re sixteen, you’ve already decided about your immediate educational future. You either know what you want to be or you’re still figuring it out, but either way you have a basic idea of who you are; you’ve picked your subjects for next year.

In my case I was starting to realise that I wanted to be a musician or at the very least a composer. At the same time I was recognising how difficult this would be but I didn’t have a second plan. I didn’t believe I should need one. You’re too headstrong at sixteen.

I knew I liked History. I knew I liked reading occasionally (English Literature had put a big damper on it). I knew I quite liked writing but that I had never been able to finish anything I started. I knew I liked drama but that my shyness held me back from acting and that although I enjoyed art, I wasn’t a particularly good set/prop designer. (I once created moustaches from card and lots of pieces of thread…)

As I expect many people who have a passion find, I was in love with one thing and nothing else, no matter how much I enjoyed it, could quite compare.

That’s a potentially unnecessary background for this post.

Back on topic and none of my class, that I remember, were particularly enthused by the idea of a career’s meeting with a random person who didn’t know us, and the software the career company had provided had told almost every one of us that we should become a leather worker.

So the time came when I went into the library and talked to the career’s advisor. Thankfully she didn’t tell me I should be a leather worker. She told me I might make a good journalist.

I laughed about that for a while because whilst I liked writing it was rather low down on my list – music, history, and web design trumped it. I didn’t want to write, I liked it but wasn’t good enough for the time and ideas that would be needed for journalism. As I spoke about writing very little during the meeting I really didn’t understand how she had concluded that journalism was a good match. To be honest I still don’t.

A few years later and I had to give up on music. A few years after that and I started blogging. It may not be journalism and it may not pay, but in the grand scheme of things it’s pretty similar.

Once I laughed at someone. I suppose they should be laughing at me now.

What did your school career’s advisor tell you and has your life matched their advice in any way?



February 19, 2014, 3:03 am

We didn’t have a career advisor when I was in school – I don’t think the school cared a bit about helping us find fulfilling employment! I think a lot of my teachers had low hopes for me because I was so shy and reserved, but I was determined to go to college and have a career – I think many of them would be surprised to know that I work with people now.
Your adviser must have had a vision of the future :-)


February 19, 2014, 3:34 pm

We sort of had some people come in to talk to us about careers and our futures. She agreed with everything I had planned (to go to college) and that was it. I have always been confident and outgoing so I don’t think they were that worried about me!


February 19, 2014, 3:51 pm

We didn’t have career advisors but I took several medical related courses in high school but when I got to college realized I didn’t have the discipline for some of the more difficult science courses. Because I loved Wuthering Heights so much in high school I opted for English. Ha! Two degrees later and I ended up working in insurance. Oh well!!

Audra (Unabridged Chick)

February 19, 2014, 3:57 pm

Funny how life works out! I didn’t have a career adviser either, but I recall in college applying to be a Resident Assistant — someone who lived in the dorms to help students — and I specifically requested not to be placed with freshman students. I was placed with freshman, and it was the best assignment for me ever. I adored the job and working with first year students. This kind of thing keeps happening to me — I hate fundraising but I’m good at it, etc. Funny what we think we know we’re good at versus what we are…!

Literary Feline

February 19, 2014, 6:37 pm

After taking what felt like a battery of tests in high school, my guidance counselor told me I was best suited for something in the helping profession. I became a social worker. Not because he said so, but because I was already on that path. :-)

Jenny @ Reading the End

February 19, 2014, 11:45 pm

I don’t think we met with anybody about careers, but we did have several aptitude tests. I always came up social worker. I wanted to write a note to the people who made the test that a girl can have the same VALUES as a social worker (if, say, she was raised by two of them), without actually wanting to BE a social worker.


February 20, 2014, 9:29 am

I remember this situation well! I don’t remember what I was told to be – probably a librarian. At the time I was all about studying History and being a Historian or Archaeologist. Funny how things change, I love writing now and it would be a dream career.

Funny how sometimes people can see the potential in us before we can – like your careers advisor did with you.


February 20, 2014, 6:59 pm

When I was in high school, I was 100% sure that I would end up being a scientist…I only applied to universities with good biology programs…I had NO doubt that’s what I would end up doing. Then a year into my college degree, I had a complete change of heart, and ended up with a career in student affairs (basically student advising at the college level). I had counselors in high school who said they thought I would make a good teacher, and I always thought they were crazy…turns out my career path ended up a lot closer to that than to science!


February 27, 2014, 12:51 pm

Anbolyn: That’s sad to hear, though I have to say I emphasise completely. ‘Needs to speak up’ was always on my report card and my History teacher advised me not to carry on with the subject. I wonder if it’s that clear-headed concept – a person who doesn’t know you at all may come to the conversation with an open, objective, mind.

Jessica: That’s good to hear, and must have added to your confidence too!

Trish: That’s quite a difference in subject, and then numbers rather than words – but then you’ve experienced three disciplines which is pretty awesome.

Audra: Good story! I like that it didn’t just work out okay, it worked out wonderfully. I think there’s a lot of (sometimes misplaced) hope in it, liking what we aren’t as good at, but then it generally works out in the end.

Literary Feline: I like that :) That must have been a quick conversation!

Jenny: Very true! I think that was the problem with our test, what we inputed just happened to match a certain career.

Alice: The nice thing about writing is that you can include History in it :) (And I really like the way universities are combining the subjects.) I suppose you need a very good level of intutive skills to be a career’s advisor.

Kelly: If I hadn’t written the post I’d say ‘snap!’ – that seems the most appropriate response. We think we know ourselves and it seems weird to say this, but maybe there are times when others truly do know us better.



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