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What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: A Teacher Looking Back… and Forward

If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up…

at 8-10 years old, I would unravel huge dreams. First, I’d be an astronaut. That’d take some time, but by about 30, I’d be a lawyer, because it’s a really good idea to be a lawyer if you want to be president, and I did. “I’m gonna be the youngest president and the first female.” Don’t ask me how I knew at 8 that the president has to be 35 and that many of them were lawyers.

at 14-18 years old, lots of futures crossed my mind. At one point, I wanted to teach English literature in Germany so that I could live there. For several years, I was going to get my PhD and my MD so I could be a research virologist and discover cures for viral diseases. Later, I decided that one doctorate was more than enough, and I would go to med school so I could have a career where I got to marvel at the intricate wonders of the human body. I even applied to UMKC, Dad’s alma material.

at 18-23, I wanted to teach English and develop my web design skills. Then, Dr. Mark Trevor Smith and Dr. Biava introduced me to the field of linguistics. Noam Chomsky. Descriptive and prescriptive grammar. First and second language acquisition. Dialects, idiolects, regional variations. Language isolates… I could go on and on with the ideas that excited my mind.

by 23, I had started grad school and teaching, and, being quite averse to public speaking, I was all nerves the first day. But something clicked, and I felt right standing up there on the other side of the desk, armed with a plan and expectations.

by 25, I had secured a teaching job in a German university. I would teach English language classes for two years, and have the time of my life while doing it. It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but I learned so much while I was there, from my students, from my colleagues, from my in-laws, from grocery shopping and traveling.

at 28, I hated teaching. I had an awful semester. It wasn’t only the classroom that was bad during that time, but it was easiest to blame. At lunch with a friend, one of those who is blunt and honest and sees you for who you really are, I was told that I obviously hated teaching and I needed to get out, that it was okay. But what else could I do?

by almost 29, I wanted to be a social media virtual assistant, or an online community manager. I had gotten out of my rotten funk about teaching and re-discovered the joys it offers, too.

Now I’m almost 30 and I am trying to work out the future I want and the future Rob and I want and what is best for that, so that I can make it happen. Do I go for any old job, but get security and consistency? Or do I pursue a career with flexibility and frequent developments and new technology, that is still in its infancy, really; one that will satisfy me in other ways than an 8-to-5 would?

Who knows.