Thursday, November 03, 2005

Step 4, Question #1

I’ve been directed to ask a few particular questions of myself, in my search for my own definitions of meaning and fulfillment.
First Up: What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was very young, it seems my first career aspiration was to be a waitress. Apparently, as my parents understand it, I always saw people giving the waitress money, and decided that would be a good thing.

How does this relate to where I’m at now?

Well, if it’s true that all I saw was that a waitress got money, and I wanted money, perhaps it is this: I really don’t consider myself interested in or defined by my job. I go to work, they give me money, I turn that money into motorcycles, is how I’ve been explaining “what I do” to people for the past few years. It describes me as someone who has made a life outside of work. A good life. But it also describes me as someone who spend at least 40 hours a week being bored or worse.

Later, I decided I wanted to be a teacher.
Which is a very noble concept. I still love teaching, sharing knowledge and experience, and learning. To me, a teacher is among the most honorable professions, or positions. At some times, we are all teachers, professionally or not.

At some point, I seemed to want to be a lawyer. I don’t know how much of that was because I love a good argument (I do), and how much was because people seem to think that’s a good thing for a kid to want to be. I really don’t think I’d enjoy being a lawyer.

The President thing must have just been one of those things kids say. Why the hell would I want to be president? I mean, sure, I’m pretty sure I could do a head-and-shoulders better job than the current president. But as a career, politics sounds horrible. Thanks, but I don’t want to turn into a shell of smiles and bullshit covering up a bunch of dry-rot. Anyone who really wants office is probably the worst person to put there. With a few exceptions. Maybe.

Then I started to mature into my teenage years; hobbies and interests start to take shape.

I think I must have been in junior high when I decided the thing to do would be to buy a semi truck or a Humvee (at that time they were still military vehicles with actual capacity and function) and live in my vehicle and travel around. That has nothing to do with occupation, but a lot to do with what I wanted to do.

In high school, I also cultivated interests in English/writing and history. History doesn’t make much of an occupation, but writing could, if I were willing to really work at it.

But really, I wanted to be a costumer. I loved to sew, I loved costume history, I loved to make things. I still love to make things, but don’t really have the time and space for sewing. I still love history and design, but I abandoned the costume thing when I realized how unstable it would be. I really like having a life with health coverage and a paycheck. At some point, I think I thought a small business: coffee chop and bookstore, possibly retail of my clothes type thing might interest me. Maybe that speaks of a need for meaningfulness in my work, a need to feel like I’m building something? Or maybe it’s just bullshit. I don’t know. Again, I may be too much of a coward to be in business for myself. I really like my health coverage. Have I mentioned I’m obsessed with health insurance? Perhaps the expensive ambulance trips and surgeries that took place while I was in college, are not coincidental to my decision to shift to a more stable, employer-oriented job market. So. Fashion. I mean, it’s what my degree was in.

You think you want to be a designer, because everybody is supposed to want that. But at the same time, you can’t stand the designers you meet. My mind is too technical and pragmatic to deal with this silliness. Design is good, but not when it’s been given a bad name by these morons. I know how to put together a corset and straightjacket, I know the best way to set armholes and zippers, and I don’t understand why I have to explain repeatedly that we can’t change a pocket width by 1/16” because of mass production restraints. Further, I’m not sure I care.

So what did I want to be when I grew up?

I guess I wanted to teach and learn.
I guess I wanted to make an impact in people’s lives.
I guess I wanted to make money.
I guess I wanted to travel and be free of a lot of crap.
I guess I wanted to write, which could mean a lot of learning, or traveling, or research. It could have meant telling stories or it could have meant teaching.
I guess I wanted to create, and in a very hands-on, technical way. I loved the craft, the information, the meanings and histories, and even more, the rustles and smells of the materials.
I guess I wanted to have ownership in something, and a quiet and personal connection.
I guess I wanted to make ends meet, to allow for other needs in my life. Health, proximity to family, and my life in the city, to name a few…

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