Our childhood career dreams usually consist of the totally achievable professional occupations of cowboy/ghost hunter/ *insert crazy job here title here*. But now we live in the real world, and as we embark through our degrees, our childhood plans often catch up with us. We’ve realised that being an adult is actually kind of hard.
This month, Quench Features looks back with nostalgia at our childhood naivety and reminisces of the days where we were young, bright and full of hope. Now we’re stressed, broke and living in a world of graduate unemployment, and that dreaded question asked to us by so many of our family members, “What are you going to do when you finish your degree?” has replaced previous childhood arrogance with a wave of pure fear and confusion for even the best of us. Have our dreams become our reality, or have we changed our tune a little bit?
Nearly a month into studying English Literature at Cardiff University, things seem very far away from life as a child, even if home is only an hour down the M4. Unsurprisingly, a lot has changed since then, however my hopes of writing for magazines (or anyone who is prepared to listen) have remained a constant. I have never really strayed from the dream of writing for a publication (an aspiration likely to be conjured up by the countless replays of Devil Wears Prada as a child), however, the nitty gritty reality of such a line of work is something which I have found increasingly daunting as I have grown up; particularly when the luxurious lifestyle of Carrie Bradshaw seems slightly less attainable on a student budget. Although the allure of the industry may have been what had initially ignited my interest in the field, the reality of the tough competition I face after leaving university is something which I find increasingly overwhelming. Taking one step closer to leaving the safe and secure bubble of education can sometimes feel like walking into the lions’ den. Whilst my course may be a touch more grammar than glamour, sometimes we have to get thrown in the deep end and hope for the best!
When I was much younger, my dream future job was to be an actress performing in best-selling West End musicals. Isn’t it funny how as children our aspirations don’t revolve around qualifications, entry requirements, salaries or job security? We don’t even care whether we are even slightly capable of perusing such a career. No questions were ever asked about whether I could actually act/dance/sing to a West End standard (or whether I could do any of those things at all). I just knew I wanted to be an actress and that was the most I ever thought or did about it. It didn’t seem to occur to me that I had to be talented, or put any effort in. As is the case with most childhood crazy dream jobs; in our blissful naivety anything is possible just because we want it to be. But then I grew up, and I realised that talent was actually quite important in that line of work. I don’t have a definite future career in mind at the moment, and whilst my childhood love of musicals still remains, I am more than happy to keep that passion to singing along (badly) to Hairspray, Wicked and Les Mis songs in my bedroom…where no audiences are required. I think I’ll leave the West End to the professionals.
Right now, as I slave over books and notes for my degree, I cannot help but wish I was living in a simpler time when my only worries were which colour hairband to wear or which flavour Fanta was the best. I did not think that at this age I’d have to be scouring the internet for work experience or worrying about getting a well-paid job. At the young age of 5, all I wanted to be was princess with a pretty tiara and a long dress. What 5-year-old doesn’t?! It wasn’t until I reached 11 that it occurred to me that I need to start giving people a serious answer when they ask me what I want to do when I grew up, so the first thing that came in to my head was teaching. But then GCSE’s came around and I thought to myself; ‘damn, do I really want to be in education all my life?’ Hell no, would be the answer to that. Years within the educational structure has taught me that I’m ready to get out into the real world and pave my own way. What’s the worst that could happen…right?
Now like a lot of people my age named Tom, and indeed a lot of people not named Tom, I watched a lot of Thomas the Tank when I was little. There was a brief time where I wanted to be a train driver, not realizing how probably uninteresting such a job is if you work on a railway line with a good health and safety record (i.e. not the fictional one on the isle of Sodor). I was always quite boring though, and one thing I wanted to be for a while was a post office worker; specifically, that person who sits and puts stamps on your letters and parcels. I can’t remember now exactly why, but I think it was just because I wanted to improve my stamp collection, and I assumed that working in a post office, where all the stamps are coming in, would be the best place to get access to all the new stamps. It occurs to me now though that just as a McDonalds worker gets bored of chips or a brothel madam may appear asexual, a stamp collection would surely lose its lust once you realize just how plentiful stamps are in your job at the post office.
Ballerina, pilot, actress, pop star, vet; now these are the types of things I imagine the average child would aspire to be when they grew up, but when I was younger, I wanted to be a Mushroom Picker. Yes, you read correctly; someone who picks mushrooms. That was how I wanted to fulfil my life. I do wonder why this was my dream job and I’m pretty sure I heard it listed as a career opportunity on a cat in the Hat video, and for some reason it just spoke to me. I guess I’m just a fun-guy (sorry)! I don’t even like mushrooms. But long story short, Cardiff University didn’t offer a mushroom picking course or any other kind of fungi-collecting qualification. What a shame!
Megan Sylvester C1420379
The Jedi were seen as a symbol of hope in dark times, interacting with new species, and protecting innocent people far and wide in an attempt to maintain the peace across the galaxy. Instantly, I thought, now here is a job I like the sound of. I was always good at sword fighting with my school friends with wooden sticks, surely that had to be enough to be an intergalactic space solider? Also, I was certain that in my lifetime humans would have found a way to venture through hyperspace, travelling at the speed of light, fighting crime and keeping the social order; basically becoming heroes. Unfortunately, this wasn’t meant to be, as this level of technology has still not been reached, reducing me to suppress my clear Jedi skills and to carry out a degree in Geography and Planning. I think I’ll leave the fighting for peace and protecting the people to the Jedi’s until modern technology catches up with my wild childhood imagination.
I’ve always had a deep devotion for English and writing, and as an enthusiastic, (arguably) over ambitious child, of course, that meant I was going to become an author. Maybe I was a bit more extravagant than I’ve given myself credit for. It’s perfectly acceptable to aim high, however when you’re a child that is amazed at almost everything you see, you don’t think about how much competition there is in the ‘real world’. Fast forward to present day, and I’m sure your ambitions have changed, much like mine did. Writing is something I have always been sure of, but finding a suitable career choice takes some time. You may still not know what you want to be when you ‘grow up’, but as long as you pursue something you are dedicated to, that’s all that counts.