I’m not sure how it happened, but this year I’ll be turning 24. That’s a year for every hour of the day; it means I’m just a handful of birthdays away from my 10-year high school reunion; and no matter how much I choose to avoid acknowledging it, I’m an adult. Bleh.
A significant part of the whole adulting business is getting an adult job, most commonly referred to as a career. But as my transcripts will tell you, I’m still a few years away from having to deal with that milestone. If I haul ass, I’ll be done all of the appropriate schooling in two years; the gentler, saner path has me in post-secondary for at least another three. While many young people are plagued with uncertainty over what they plan to do for a career, I’ve been cursed with the ambition to know exactly what I want to do—the only problem is it involves two occupations that may not be able to co-exist peacefully: an elementary teacher and a writer.
Since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. (Aside from when I was five and I told my parents I wanted to be a vacuum cleaner, due to my affinity for eating food off of the kitchen floor.) I rocked my pre-reqs as soon as I got to Douglas and I’m now finishing up my English degree at Simon Fraser before enrolling in the 12-month Professional Development Program. After that I’ll have my teaching certificate. Pretty straight-forward, right?
The only thing holding me back is my love for writing. For the past seven months I’ve been able to financially support myself between two Editor-in-chief jobs. I’m by no means making enough money to do fun things like start saving or take a vacation, but for the first time in my life my work corresponds with my passion. It’s an intoxicating feeling—and one I hope to experience again after I move onto other positions.
So where exactly is this conflict? If I can do one thing I love while I work towards something else I love, isn’t that a dream scenario? It’s a problem because I feel myself coming to a point where I have to pick one or the other.
A side effect of being a writer, especially in the digital age, is nearly everything you say is readily available online. Much like you hear about people getting fired for comments made on Twitter or secrets coming out after a potential employer peruses your Facebook profile, things I say and write about can be found online long after most print copies have disappeared. Everyone’s skeletons have an html code and it puts an interesting twist on the employee screening process.
I don’t feel like most of the topics I write about are necessarily controversial—feminism, growing up, my cat—but the idea that people can, after typing nine letters on a keyboard and hitting search, find out a substantial amount about me is frightening. A group of people, say a school board looking to hire a new elementary teacher, might think otherwise.
It’s painful to say but there are topics I’ve held myself back from writing about because the thought has crossed my mind: what if this comes back to me later and I regret it? Some of you might see that as cowardice; I call it foresight. It’s recognizing that things we say have repercussions and that we have to be conscious of it.
A luxury I had growing up was a foundation of encouragement from my parents who always told me to do what I love. Follow my dreams, pursue my passion, and all those fortune cookie comments meant to build me up to impossible heights. The likelihood of any of our dream jobs translating into actuality is minimal; to say I want to be a writer is fairly unrealistic, but something I refuse to abandon due to fear of failure.
As I enter the later years of post-secondary, I feel myself being pulled in two different directions. As valuable as your schoolwork is, networking is equally or even more important. If I dedicate all of my extracurricular hours to pursuing writing and interacting with people who do the same, there isn’t as much time to meet other early educators and mingle with that crowd. The early educator field is difficult to get into and volunteering/making connections is one of the best ways to improve your chances of getting a job. The same can be said for writing. The further along I go, the harder it is to balance both.
If my plight sounds familiar and you’re experiencing something similar—feeling torn between pursuing one passion or another—I regrettably have no answer for what to do. In that utopian future, I’m able to purse both interests, even if one takes a subservient role to the other. But whether this is likely or even possible is yet to be seen.