I was listening to the radio the other day and they were talking about asking kids the question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" At the moment, the answers at my house are a mommy (Haley), a fireman (Preston), and a fireman (Brekken).
Apparently, my boys fit right into the mold, because the top answer for boys is fireman. That led to a discussion of what would it be like if adults everywhere were really doing the jobs they dreamed of as children. There would be a lot of firemen, policemen, astronauts, teachers and princesses (top answers for girls) out there! What you probably wouldn't find is a lot of accountants, office managers, or burger flippers. All jobs that someone needs to do, but you don't find a lot of kids dreaming about it from a young age. :)
It got me thinking about what I wanted to be when I was a kid. I remember when I was really young I wanted to be a teacher - specifically a kindergarten teacher. These days, I know I just don't have the patience to handle a room full of 5-year-olds every day! It takes a special person to be a teacher.
Shortly after that, I decided I was going to be a vulcanologist. I have no idea where I originally learned that this was a profession, but I do remember for a number of years every time someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would immediately tell them I wanted to be a vulcanologist. Very few people had a response to that other than a weak, somewhat confused... "well, that's nice." I was fascinated with volcanoes for a lot of years and had grand plans for all the studies and discoveries I would make as a world-traveling vulcanologist. Alas, it turns out that I really have a huge fear of being burned, not to mention an aversion to breathing smoke and ash and a dislike of climbing large mountains... All of these being rather common activities for a vulcanologist investigating an active volcano, it's probably best that I eventually decided instead to be a doctor.
That was my career plan for a lot of years, actually. All the way through college. I majored in Biology (specifically, Public Health) and even took the MCAT and started filling out applications for medical school. I had decent scores, too. I probably could have been accepted. But organic chemistry filled me with dread. I barely managed to pass the organic chemistry courses required for my bachelor's degree - and looking ahead to medical school I saw a LOT more organic chemistry in my future. It was at that point (my final year of college) that I changed my path and decided to go to nursing school and become a nurse practitioner instead.
At the same time, I had a job building computer-based training courses for K-12 geography students. I loved it. I was so involved in it that I happily spent 60+ hours a week working on the projects, often spending the night in the computer lab, going home only long enough to nap for an hour or two and then heading out to class and back to work. (I obviously had much more energy back then than I do now!) My boss pointed out how much I loved what I was doing and suggested that I look into it as a career instead... which led to a complete change in direction for my master's degree and a career doing what I do now.
And I love what I do. I especially love my current job because it combines my interest in maternal/child medicine and education. But I do occasionally wonder what life would be like as a vulcanologist...