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What did you want to be when you grew up vs. what you are today?
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Growing up, I had many ideas about who I would be when I grew up. Most I never shared with others. Some are marked in those half album-half journal log books, where you keep your school photos and write something about yourself from that year. I mulled cheerleader, nun, teacher, doctor, nurse, soldier, thespian, musician, dancer, and so on.
When it came time to choose I started to lean more directly: medicine–either animal or people. But, then, in the green of high school, I started to write, not just read books. At first, I had no idea if I wanted to write scripts or short stories, or books–perhaps something else entirely. Regardless, writing overcame me and I was always caught writing my stories. The majority of that material has disappeared with the dump truck (thankfully). However, I have persevered.
In college, I still focused on the biology career. I had evolved from veterinarian or obstetrician to Zoologist. I could sort of do something like both of those things without having to perform surgery. Surgery takes extreme skill and patience, plus a lack of most fears. Doctors certainly do worry, but they have science and skill and training and cajones. I was too afraid to be a surgeon. What if I couldn’t put things back right? Too much is riding on the procedure to be haunted by such doubt.
While my studies progressed, I found that calculus and organic chemistry were quite difficult. In addition, when I sought help from the professor of my math course, who had flat out stated how much he hated biology students–especially female ones–I was refused. I still remember the face of the other student standing there in shock of him. I dropped the course. Then I had to sit through OC listening to the professor talk about how he deserved to teach at better schools, and was wasting his time with us, basically because he felt we were stupid. Although I carried a B+ in the lab, I was carrying a low C in the course. I was barely cutting it and I already felt that there was no help to obtain from these men.
Long story short, it was only a two-year school, and I was transferring anyway. I changed my major to English. I toyed with the idea of a bio minor or a double minor in bio and history, but went with history only. I never looked back. Not even when I went back for my Master’s years later.
Is there a difference? On the surface there is a big difference. But if you think about what I do, you’ll see the echoes of everything in my career path coming together. It all informed and assisted me on the way. For instance, one of my early jobs was data entry. I learned to type fast and accurate, a plus for writing (yes, I still make typos because everyone does!). The eclectic choices I was running through in my youth look like book characters. I was probably more or less exploring characterization, rather than just a life goal. As for surgery, you see how plots are stitched together. Zoology or Obstetrics, the care and feeding of an author’s cast of characters–who will be housed with who, what are their cycles, feedings, development, enrichment, creation….
I sure would love to be a zoo mom still. If my work ever afforded me the pleasure, opening a sanctuary for North American Wildlife is a top priority. For now, I just have my daughter, my dog, and my writing. That’s Zoo enough for me!