Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What do you want to be when you grow up?

One of the best things about watching a child grow is speculating and joking about what he might want to be when he grows up. We already bought him a pair of pajamas that say "I want to be a fireman," but I'm sure he'll go through a list of different professions. I had lunch with a coworker yesterday, and as we were walking out of the cafe and back up the stairs I mentioned that I had gone to divinity school with the intention of being a Unitarian Universalist minister but ended up getting the 2-year Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree instead of the 3-year Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree. He asked why and I said something about having thought I wanted to go to culinary school to be a pastry chef instead. He then asked if I ever did that ...

The first thing I remember wanting to be when I grew up was an artist when I was in first grade. Then I think I wanted to be a teacher. I'm pretty sure there wasn't anything else before I decided I wanted to be a doctor sometime when I was maybe 10 or 11 after getting a splinter out of my younger brother's foot. That lasted awhile. The type of doctor I wanted to be changed around a little bit, but mostly it was to be a pediatrician. I think I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon by the time I was looking at and applying to colleges as a potential biology major (pre-med, of course). By the time I chose a college, I was pretty sure I was going to be a German language major. Maybe Italian. Freshman year, I wanted to be an interpreter. Figured I might as well get my teacher's license and started doing the coursework necessary for certification (for high school language). So then I wanted to be a teacher during my sophomore year. Didn't so much enjoy the fieldwork and deciding teaching probably wasn't for me. Junior year I spent in Italy and Germany and I'm not really sure what I wanted to be while I was there (maybe I was back to interpreter) but I started thinking more about religion. Since I had no clue, I went ahead and applied for a few things for something to do for the year after college. Senior year (well, Senior semester since I finished early), I decided I wanted to be a UU minister and picked some schools to apply to. Then I went to Korea to teach English and decided maybe I wanted to go back to doing something with languages (but not teaching, still disliked that), so I applied for some linguistics programs. Didn't get those, got into Div school instead. Decided maybe I didn't want to be a minister but I'd get the MTS and maybe be a professor of some sort. Or maybe something with social work. Came to Cambridge, started Div school and then a lot happened. I started baking a ton, my dad died, I started working in the Harvard Theological Library, I met my future wife. I thought maybe I'd go to culinary school. Then I thought maybe I'd go to library school. Then I decided to continue trying to work in the libraries. Then I tried library school -- wasn't for me. Then I got a job at Google. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. :) I know I like doing what I'm doing now. I'm good at it, it changes, I like the people I work with. I like all the choices I've made. I still get to preach at church and give sermons and be a part of a little church. Maybe after the kids go off to college I'll take the rest of the classes I'd need to change my MTS over to an MDIV and be a minister after all. :)

So, to answer my coworker's question, I guess I ended up not being a minister just because I can't settle on any one career. Doing what I'm doing now keeps me on my toes and while the basics of what I do are the same from day-to-day, in a growing, changing company, I guess I'm getting to change my job as I go along without having to take a few years to get a degree or training and in that time, lose interest in the first thing and have moved on to something else.