“Look At This Photograph…”

If you read any career book, or just troll online at any job related site, you’ll find a variation of the following sentence passed off as unmitigated fact: people will change careers an average of 7 times in their adult life. It’s not a surprising statement if you just think back to various stages of your life and the job you were doing, or what you were thinking of doing.

For me, I was a space geek as a kid. I was totally enthralled with the NASA space program, Star Trek, Space 1999, Star Wars, and all the rest. I really wanted to be an astronaut – or at least work in space, and then come home and fly around in my flying car. Well…that didn’t happen, did it. Teen years were spent alternating between wanting to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a medical doctor or a film director. I know, very random choices, but there ‘tis.

Young adult years: 3 years of film school, and then…a long-term study of politics. Wow! Another random choice, and when you factor in various jobs in radio until my mid-20s, I look like a big flake.

And then…the watershed moment when I found my “thing.” After doing my undergrad in politics and actually excelling in my studies, I wanted to write and teach – mostly because I loved talking about political ideas so much. So, I cast my lot with the tweedy professors and devoted years of time and energy to get my “union card” (i.e., my PhD) so I could pursue what I thought I wanted. And I did it! I completed my dissertation, passed my comps and got my degree. Then I got part time gigs at various colleges and universities, and was trying very hard to land the coveted tenure track job. However, the market for new profs was very tight and, alas, it was rejection letter after rejection letter. While all this was going on, I was working in radio doing weekends and fill in work at the same place where I’m currently employed on a full time basis.

I bring all this up because it was spring cleaning at our house last week, and I resolved to thin out my book collection and donate what I didn’t want (and wouldn’t use) to our local library. But as I was boxing up shelf after shelf of books, I started get a bit sad and somewhat maudlin about what the majority of these books represented. For me, they represented a huge investment of time, money, and energy that took J and I across the country (and back) to chase after something that just never really worked out. I don’t want you to think I donated my entire library of books, but there were a significant number of titles that I hung on to in case I finally got that tenure track job. And it didn’t help my mood when I heard “Photograph” by Nickleback – especially the chorus:

Every memory of looking out the back door
I have a photo album spread out on my bedroom floor
It’s not the same,
it’s time to say it
Goodbye goodbye
Every memory of walking out the front door
I found the photo of the present I was looking for
It’s hard to say it,
time to say it
Goodbye goodbye
Goodbye

Stupid Nickleback! Okay, enough blah blah and boo hoo about me. How ‘bout you? What career dreams did you have and did you achieve it?

–PK

Next up: Friday’s Mix Six inspired by The Lovely Mrs. Davis

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