Can you imagine me as a biologist? Nope, didn’t think so. Neither can I. But somehow in the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I got distracted and lost, and even though my lifelong dream had been to pursue writing, I had concocted some strange plan to go into medicine. I’d hightailed it from the journalism building to the biology labs one quarter, and after one particularly grueling lab, I was walking back to my dorm on campus when I ran into a beloved journalism professor who set me straight.
Pete Steffens was his name, a wise old journalism professor on the verge of retirement and beloved by all baby journalists at Western Washington University, and I still remember his kind but firm words that set me back on the career path that was right for me:
Pete: “Sarah, we’ve missed you this quarter in the journalism department.”
Me: “Oh, yeah, about that. Um, well, you see, I’m a biology major now.”
Pete, shaking his head: “Well that’s a waste of a perfectly great writer’s brain. Come back. We miss you.”
Me (feeling emotional): “I miss you too. And to be honest, I hate biology.”
And that’s how Sarah got her groove back.
There have been several more times in my life when I needed someone to help me set the reset button back to writing–like the time I thought about opening a clothing boutique (oh boy), or making lampshades for a living (don’t ask), or inventing some fantastic new gizmo to sell. I suppose its one of the curses of having a creative mind–creativity can lead you elsewhere. But, I’m thankful that each time a friend, a family member, or my wise husband has reminded me of where my gifts lie, and ahem, where they don’t.
Takeaway: If you know someone–a college student or mid-level professional, even–who is struggling with finding her path and realizing that this path is actually right in front of her nose, set her straight, please?
It’s OK to have other career aspirations and dreams, but I’ve learned over the years that writing is where my heart is and where I need to be. So I’ve stayed put, and I’m so glad I have.
Have you ever had a career flip-flopping moment where, looking back, you are now so glad you didn’t take the plunge or change your path?