I am unsure about any of you but I remember a time when I could tell you exactly what I wanted to do with my life as far as an occupation is concerned. I enjoyed career days in elementary school; at my small, Midwest, rural United States school from the time we were in preschool until we were in 6th grade we would dress up in costumes representing the careers we aspired to. So from the time I was at least 4 years old until I was approximately 12 years, I participated in career days!
I was always ready for those days, during some of the earlier career days, I, like many other youngsters simply wanted to be whatever the latest craze was on the biggest cartoons….but I often ended up being whatever costume my parents found at the local department store! I did not care because we were having a party for career day for most of those earlier days. It also never occurred to me that career day in preschool through third grade often occurred during Halloween!
I was a child and I did not realize my first few “career days” were simply excuses for Halloween parties! Plus I did not know that my small, lovable town had a few religious groups who were absolutely opposed to the celebration of Halloween, but not career day!
But once we made it to 4th grade, career days became real! I recall distinctly that this was a time when those of us who were labeled high achieving were separated from our peers and told about the importance of careers.
For all three years I wanted to be an Attorney.
Not just any attorney, I wanted to specialize in child advocacy and juvenile rights. I did not know if such a thing existed but I knew that this was my career choice!
To convey the message to everyone that I wanted to be an attorney, I would wear a suit! Without fail, every year during those three years, I wore a “power suit” that was usually some shade of gray.
I felt that gray was the color that any good attorney would wear! I am certain that I got that idea from Andy Griffith’s Matlock! My young mind felt that Matlock always wore a gray suit, and he was the closest I’d ever been to an attorney.
My desire to be an attorney felt like a dream conceived in my wild imagination that was impossible because of my humble beginnings!
Let me explain, I am Black from a small town in the United States of America and at that time, the majority of my extended family thought of college as something that wealthy people did. This is not a bad thing, it simply highlights the issues with access to higher education…so when I suggest that become an attorney felt like a wild dream, I am serious.
Well once I finished high school, I no longer wanted to be an attorney; however, I continued to tell people who I was interested in attending law school. I did not know how to tell individuals that I was not interested in a legal career anymore (side-note: my perception of what was meant by a legal career was drastically limited at the time so it probably would have worked if I knew more) so even once I graduated from my undergraduate institution – I continued to tell people that I wanted to become a child advocate attorney.
It sounded much better than – I want to help underrepresented groups attend and graduate from post-secondary institutions! Yes, telling someone who I wanted to be a child advocate attorney sounded much better….because I had an actual name for that position and it was readily familiar to most people.
I am still actively looking for a job in the real world, but when I think back to the young me who was always ready for career day – I am thankful for the opportunity to even begin thinking about a career. I may no longer want to be an attorney, but I am still in the market to becoming an advocate – young me would be proud!
I am presently finding my way to my future through an exploration of my past. Keep watching!