What do you want to be when you grow up?

The perennial question at various stages of your life. When you’re a little tot at nursery school a ‘ballerina’ or ‘astronaut’ is enough to evoke squeals of adoration from parents. There are, of course, always those people, who from a very young age state that they are going to be a doctor or a vet and go on to do so. These are the children with direction in life; these are the children with ambition. Or are they?

You are one of the lucky ones if you know where your interests lie from an early age, thus avoiding all the difficult subject choices at school,but sometimes having less of an idea of where you want to end up in life leaves you open to exciting new career possibilities. (At least, this is now what I am telling myself on a daily basis.)

When I was a child, I don’t remember ever wanting to be anything specific. I was immensely happy with my life as it was -consuming record amounts of custard, playing in the park and making velcro sandwiches in my plastic, toy kitchen.


Nevertheless, before your secondary school education comes to a close and the next daunting chapter of your life opens up before you, career aptitude tests come to your rescue. Fifteen year-old you naively thinks, oh good, this will give me a push in the right direction.

Whether it’s a passing trend or something that schools and education establishments genuinely believe to be of some use, it’s a waste of time trend and one that most definitely is not useful. Notably the one I did, which I have dug out from the bottom of a pile of ‘I know I should bin these, but maybe one day I’ll need them’ papers. It lasted a whole day. A WHOLE DAY. On the other hand, this was the pinnacle moment in defining my future, so maybe setting aside only one day to discover my future career was a little ambitious of them. Or, rather, it was moronic to believe that this would be of any concrete help.

The first half was a questionnaire asking deep questions such as, ‘Do you like working with animals? -yes or no’ and ‘Are you interested in music? -yes or no’. It was therefore of no great surprise that when the results came back, since I answered yes to liking music and no to working with animals, I would be well-suited to a career as a musician, but not to one as a vet. Ingenious. Thank goodness I was doing this test before I foolishly carried on with biology and chemistry in the hopes of getting into vet school.

The second part was a strange concoction of logical reasoning, IQ tests interspersed with some more random questions. Then, the dramatic week of waiting for the results ensued. The inevitable speculation amongst my peers as to who would be short listed as being well-suited toΒ coolΒ careers had begun. Personally, I wasn’t hopeful and was right not to be.

I tore open the envelope and extracted the sheet of paper defining my future. Career choice number one was a translator -probably because I said I enjoyed languages. Number two, a languages teacher -shocker. Number three (I kid you not), a lumberjack -misprint? Number seven, a butcher -because I said I wasn’t a vegetarian?

Who knows. Maybe in the future I will find myself purchasing a checked shirt, chopping down trees in a forest, although the chances are slim. I can barely muster enough muscle strength to drag my suitcase five minutes along the road to the bus station, let alone hack at tree barks.

The life lessons learnt from this: Career aptitude tests are useless and I still don’t know which direction my future will take, but the uncertainty is also rather exciting.


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