I always have felt like I haven't achieved career success in my life after college. I don't have a fancy title, nor did I in the United States. No corner office, no assistants. I wrestle with the idea that at my age.. I should be this or doing that. I don't really have a career path, yet the term came up this week for my Upper English students. We began a new unit on the theme of work. One of their vocabulary terms was "career path." This was a pretty new concept for most of the students in both sessions, so I explained what I thought a career path was - thank you professional development classes. I felt like I was in an undergraduate business course. I drew a diagonal line on the chalkboard with ticks at 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years. I explained that when you have a plan, it helps you focus on your goals or steps to achieve your dreams, rather than just float along. A career path or plan helps you gain control of your future, or so I explained. Yet, I don't have a career path, nor have I had a solid one since way back in college. I always had planned to work at an ad agency after college to be a copywriter. Yet, in my junior or senior year, I realized I didn't want to work at an agency, working 80-hour weeks on a campaign for mustard. But, I wasn't going to change majors then. In hindsight, I've had a lot of experiences and been able to use my communications education and interests in a variety of settings.
I challenged the students as homework to do their own career paths towards their dream job.
After class, one of my students approached me and told me he hated doing these kinds of activities. He said he didn't worry too much about the future, he kept himself open to opportunities rather than be too focused on a plan that might prevent him from seeing something else. There was more to life than work he explained.
We in America get so focused on our careers sometimes we forget to enjoy where we are at now. Sometimes we get caught in the "I should be here" game that we forget it's not a race. Is it more important if we were a bigwig or if we had a big heart?
Maybe I'll never been known to anyone outside a handful of people, but what really matters is that those people (hopefully) remember that I tried to treat them with respect and kindness.
Maybe instead of worrying or being depressed about where my life is and the lack of "success" I have, I should be grateful for the opportunities I have had to do many different and exciting things. I may never have an important job title or be power player, but who says I have to do so?
After I'm done in Peru, I don't know what I will do. Teach? Get a doctorate? Return to higher education? Write a novel? I don't know and maybe that's okay.