When I was in high school and received the highly anticipated results of the career test all seniors had to take, I wanted to go “Office Space” on that educational Magic 8 Ball.
In spite of my brother’s ability to render me useless with just the flash of his wrist and the word “veins,” I thought I was bound for medical school. My mother — after most heated household debates — predicted law school. And my father, ever the courtside superfan, wholeheartedly supported my secret ambition to play for the WNBA.
But after a battery of questions from my guidance counselor’s version of Zoltar, the computer printout told me I would make a fine rabbi. Cue “Hava Nagila” and Mo’s pissed-off face.
My frustration actually had less to do with the fact that this “infallible” PC found me fit for a profession that was typically reserved for old Jewish males and more to do with knowing I no longer had something that I could rely on to tell me what I should do with my life… what I was meant to bring to the table. My interests were many, and the choices that graduation and college afforded me felt like being pushed out of an airplane with no parachute or instructor tied to my back. I was free-falling, and I hated it.
Fast forward nearly a decade, and I’m flying the friendly skies again. In just over a month, I’ll be starting grad school to get my master’s degree in teaching English as a second language — a vastly different career path than the one I ended up choosing as an undergrad, and I don’t feel any more certain about this one than I did journalism.
That’s not to say I’m not excited about becoming a teacher. The same desire that compelled me to spend more than three years as a features writer has led me to this program: I want to help people tell their stories. But the difference now as I approach the land of syllabi for a second time is that I’m no longer looking at my life as something that should be relegated to doing one thing. Yes, I will be a teacher and I plan to throw all I am into it, but it’s not going to be the end of my story. And for the first time in my life, I know that’s OK.
I might fall in love with my job, or I might get furloughed or fired along the way. Who knows? The important thing is that I am following what feels true now, and I have to trust that this is ultimately what we’re all called to in life: authenticity and honest motivation.
The dearest redhead in my world once sent me this quote when I was in freak-out mode about my future and playing my favorite scratched record over the phone on countless occasions. You know the one: “What should I do with my life? No, really. Tell me.”
Like most to-do lists, I don’t often get to everything, but this particular agenda has been worth carrying around on a daily basis… just in case I forget what I was really meant to do with my life. Thanks, Mandy (and Walt, technically):