Career Paths Not Taken


Careers I Abandoned by the End of Elementary School

  • Singer – my family used to call me “Juice” for Juice Newton because I loved the song “Queen of Hearts.” They did not necessarily mean it as a compliment.
  • Artist/Chef – I think I was going to cook during the day and paint at night.  The fact that I have no artistic ability did not deter me.
  • Family Doctor – No specialty for me.  I wanted to be a simple general practitioner.  I think that I had played one too many games of Life and was lured by the high salary and respect a doctor commanded.  I abandoned it when I realized I didn’t have a burning desire to heal people (at least physically).

Careers I Abandoned by the End of Middle School

  • Lawyer – I was disillusioned by a meeting with a bona fide lawyer during career day in the 8th grade.  He told us it didn’t matter whether he thought his client was guilty; it was up to him to defend his client and for the prosecution to prove their case.  I was shocked.  How could he defend someone who might be guilty of the crime for which they were accused?  Oh, 13-year-old naivete and innocence.
  • Advertising Account Executive – Wow, dreaming big here.  I pored over the career books in the local public library and kept returning to a career in advertising.  I liked to write and liked the idea of helping create influential campaigns.  Or something like that. Or maybe I was presciently tapping into the creation of Mad Men.

Careers I Abandoned by the End of High School

  • President of the United States – I briefly thought about being the first female President.  I would be a benevolent dictator and the country would reach a new golden age under my careful, wise governance. And then I realized I didn’t really have the stomach for politics or the fact that I’d need to lead a squeaky-clean life.  This was 1992, and I was 15-years-old.
  • Actress – I started participating in community theater when I was 8 and also performed in school and church plays.  Of course I would at some point fantasize about becoming an award-winning actress, a stunningly-beautiful and talented movie star.  I eventually realized that I liked to eat and didn’t really have the mentality or the drive to be a starving artist.

Careers I Abandoned by the End of College

  • School Psychologist – I was awarded a Teaching Fellows scholarship and when I entered college, my ultimate career goal was to be a psychologist, and I hoped I could fulfill my Teaching Fellow requirements by being a school psychologist.  That plan was foiled because at the time, school psychology was not one of the approved jobs.  Wouldn’t you know that a year or so later, school psychology was added.  By then it was too late though because…
  • Psychologist – I eagerly took my first psychology course and couldn’t wait to learn all about the mysteries of the mind.  I was disappointed, though, because everything about our personalities and feelings seemed to be reduced to chemicals and mis-firing synapses.  I wanted to be a therapist and help people using words, not drugs.
  • Teacher (Theater, ESL, English) – Oh, I tried so hard to find a teaching path that worked for me.  I thought about teaching theater.  After a class project, I thought about teaching ESL.  I finally settled on teaching high school English because I was an English major, loved literature and wanted to become a professor eventually.  Small children were not for me, so I thought high school English would be fun.  I completed student teaching and all the requirements for licensure but admitted to myself shortly after graduation that my heart wasn’t in it. 
  • Professor – Once upon a time I dreamed about being a comparative literature professor.  My languages would be French and German. I had been accepted into the MA program in English at NC State and planned to pursue a doctorate elsewhere.  After I decided not to teach, I realized that being a professor was kind of like teaching and it seemed silly to pursue it.  Plus, I was tired of school and wanted to work.  I also liked the idea of, you know, making money. One day when I retire, I plan to return to grad school to earn a graduate degree in English for fun.  Yeah, I’m weird like that.

Careers I Abandoned by the End of Graduate School

  • Public librarian – I entered grad school thinking I wanted to be a public librarian.  I wanted a job that wasn’t very stressful and didn’t ramp up my anxiety like my current workplace did (keep in mind that my anxiety was self-induced. My job was in no way stressful).  I was tired of what I was doing and thought that being a librarian would be fun and a change of pace.  Keep in mind that I knew nothing about actual librarianship at that time.  After a few courses, I decided that I was interested in other things and hated cataloging.

Career Paths I Am Likely to Abandon in the Future

  • Business intelligence developer
  • Lady of leisure
  • Information broker
  • Market Researcher
  • Benevolent despot
  • Web developer
  • Social media researcher
  • Lottery winner

In short, I’m 34-years-old and still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

What was the most surprising job you wanted to have when you were younger?  How do you feel about what you are doing now vs what you thought you would be doing?


  • People are starting to find my blog via searches for “Trixie and Jim fan fiction.”  I am highly amused by this.  My work here is done!
  • I’m having a touch of writer’s block (obviously-see above post).  Inspire me – suggest a few topics for me.  Anything goes, even if it’s silly.  Or, questions?


  1. I thought I’d be a broadway star but found teaching English and community theatre to be enough to assuage my narcissism. I also wanted to be a doctor but ultimately realized that hypochondria and medicine might seem like a good match, but really aren’t. Also, most people these days are finding my blog because of things they Google about 50 Shades of Grey all because I wrote that one post about how hard it sucked– literally and figuratively.

  2. I’m 41 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I almost majored in art history and still wonder where that would have taken me.

  3. Do you do BI now? I am also in BI 🙂 Lunch soon!

    I hit 35 and still hadn’t figured out what I wanted to be in life. Took that crazy Mondo Beyondo class and figured out that photography is for me. Not sure when/if I will ever get there full time but I have to say, it is so inspiring to find something that makes my heart sing.

    Blog topics:
    – how is the new day care
    – how much does the transition to day care (aka illness) suck?
    – how did you meet your husband?
    – how awesome is the beach with kids??????????

  4. Hee. I abandoned some similar career paths (acting, the law) as well. I have no idea what to be now.

    For future posts, I just wanted to say that you have a gift for humor. The cake decorating post made me howl…just a thought? 😉

  5. I second Jjiraffe – love the funny stories. I’ve been thinking of doing a “top 5 embarrassing moments” post – shall we start a meme? (Like the time the elastic on my underwear snapped when I was 12 and wearing a dress… or I inadvertently mooned my entire extended family on the beach at a family reunion…) I also love hearing stories about people’s lives pre-blogging, favorite childhood memories kind of thing. Who was your best friend growing up? Are you still in touch? That kind of thing.

  6. I wanted to be a fashion designer. Now I need a makeover. I also wanted to be a physicist
    for a while, but am not gifted in math.
    I’m so glad to hear someone else say that they want to go to graduate school after retiring and get a degree for fun! Me too! My husband jokes that if we were to win the lottery, I’d end up getting degree after degree.
    What are you watching on tv these days? Movies? There is so much STUFF out there, but what do you think is good? Write about that.

  7. I abandoned similar careers, too. Doctor when I was little. I think lawyer was somewhere in there. Psychologist took a hit in college. English professor was tossed during grad school. I was a dean, a higher education administration professional … and now I’m a wandering, confused SAHM who is hoping to be re-employed soon … but at what, I haven’t the foggiest idea. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone paid us to write? Yes, yes it would. 😉

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