When I was growing up in South Africa in the 80’s, I dreamt of becoming a fireman. Yes, I do mean fireMAN, the term firefighter did not exist in South Africa back in the 80’s because women, were not allowed to join the fire department, well, certainly not as a firefighter until the mid-90’s. The same applied to the police force, where a woman would have to be a ‘Meter Maid’ (yes, exactly, that’s what I thought too) in their horrible khaki, below the knee pencil skirt uniforms with “nude” tights, brown court shoes and bowler style hat. I shudder at the thought. If I could find a photo, I’d share it but the image is firmly etched onto my retina. Anyway, I digress.
I wanted to be a fireman because they were cool, always running into danger, always helping those in need and having plenty of adventure with a cool truck, fire hoses, a Dalmatian (obviously) and of course, rather predictably, the fireman’s pole. The actual level of danger never really occurred to me, I, of course, only had any experience of fire in the barbecue (apologies Saffa friends – braai). But I was too distracted by the fun parts of the job, which in retrospect aren’t fun at all but rather necessary, adrenalin driven activities to get the firefighters across the line to the fire faster.
Clearly by the time I was a young adult, being forced to make the most important decisions of my life, I did not follow the path to become a firefighter, I instead went to play with fire in the hospitality kitchens instead.
The thing is, at 14 years old we were forced to decide on the subjects we would take for the next three years which had the potential to mould your entire life, because if your grades weren’t good enough you couldn’t follow a maths and science path and thus ended up not being able to apply for a whole host of University courses, that for some reason require a base knowledge of a subject you may never use. Even my own course wanted maths and science and then proceeded to teach us no maths and basic chemistry, as well as “Anatomy and Physiology”, which still has me wondering 20 years after graduating what the reproductive system has to do with food preparation.
Then, at 16 or 17 years old, you have to make very big decisions about what university to go to and what major to focus on that could be what you’re stuck doing for the next 40 years. It’s so hard to know what you’re going to like in 5 years, never mind 40 years. Scientists say that the brain doesn’t fully mature until we are 25, yet we are supposed to make big life decisions by 17. It makes sense then that a degree chosen by you as a 17 year old,
may no longer be the path you wish to follow at a later time in your career, just as the 17 year old me no longer wanted to be a firefighter.
When you look back at who you were when you were at. 17, do you remember who you wanted to be? How about when you were 7? What do you want to be now? Is there any parity between these career goals?
If you would like to create clarity around your career and your purpose, book a discovery call with me and let’s get to work.