Because I was born in post-feminist America,* I was never taught that girls were not allowed to have any careers other than the below:
Ha, I’m just kidding. Housewife isn’t a career. It’s work, but a career is something you get after mortgaging your entire adulthood for a degree and then spending about 15 years kissing someone else’s ass for the privilege of getting paid to be sexually harassed by a manager with a coke problem. It’s not what happens when you keep small children from murdering your furniture and become a master of couponing.
But anyway. I never grew up thinking that I had no other options, and plenty of people told me that if I worked hard and believed in myself, I could be anything I wanted. They didn’t tell me that I’d need parents who were willing to subsidize a portion of my college education, of course, which is probably why I now describe my job as “uh…office stuff?”
What’s interesting to me is that even though nobody told me or any of the girls my age that we were limited to the above jobs, most of the women I know work as teachers, nurses, secretaries, or housewives (no stewardesses, though, because this is now a job for gay men). Which is fine. I’m not married so I can’t be a housewife and I would actually enjoy administratively assisting the shit out of someone’s office, and as for the other two positions, while I have never had a desire to wipe people’s asses or educate the smart-mouthed youth of America, I feel that they are both noble careers and anyone who does them is probably better than me in a lot of ways.
My mom tells me that when I was about four, she asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I replied, “Well, I can’t sing and I can’t dance, so I guess I have to be a doctor.”
I can’t remember really wanting to be a doctor, but luckily, my natural limitations when it comes to math killed that half-assed dream pretty quickly. I do remember wanting to be a farmer (thanks to a Richard Scarry book because I never actually set foot on a farm until my 20s), a marine biologist (didn’t see the ocean until I was 11 and then I thought it was kind of gross), and an archeologist (um, I kind of still want to be an archeologist). These days, my career aspirations are a librarian, a writer, or both. Neither pays much money so I may have to split my time between the two, which will be pretty difficult when I finally go to school for/graduate with a library science degree and get published, as I can’t see either of those things happening soon and I might be kind of old when everything comes around.
And even then, whenever anyone asks me about my job, I might still shrug and say “uh…office stuff?”
I remember that time period in grade school when everyone said they wanted to be a marine biologist. I don’t think any of us really knew what was, just that it sounded cool and had to do with water. Oh and dolphins too. Before that I wanted to be a rock star. My lack of vocal talent pretty much killed that dream. Now I would have to agree with you, and go for being a writer. Until then I guess I’ll continue doing….office stuff?
Don’t knock people who do “office stuff” because they make the world turn. Office work doesn’t get done by itself. OK, here’s some serious advice from a veteran middle-aged job-hopper: Fire your boss (mentally). Instead, start thinking of yourself as the boss of your own life. Quit looking for justice, fairness, enrichment, spiritual enlightenment, satisfaction, etc., on the job, because it doesn’t exist there. Focus on getting what you need outside the 9-to-5 parameters, and you’ll be a lot happier. Your day job is simply a contractual handshake between you and your employer that you’ll do X task(s) for Y dollars. Your employer isn’t obligated to make those tasks enriching or rewarding.