When I was small I wanted to be a farmer because I loved my farm set and would play happily day in and day out, lost in my own world. I dreamt of a giant version where the animals were just as well behaved and money and finance didn’t enter the equation at all. A little later, as most animal loving girls of my generation did, I wanted to be a vet. I had no idea what this meant as reality TV had yet to be invented and saw it as an extension of my farm idea only with more martrydom and personal sacrifice as I tended the sick of the animal world. (well the cute ones anyway – some things never change!)
By the time I hit secondary school I had modified my ambitions to
being a nuclear physicist. I had no idea what this entailed but it sounded so cool (I believe we said neat back then) and it was an impressive ambition to spout especially as a girl in a budding feminist world.
The bad and sad part of it all was that this ambition coincided with having to choose my options at school so I chose to study Physics and Chemistry, neither of which I had any interest or aptitude in and both of which had hardly any girls. I think there were only 2 of us in Chemistry though I could be wrong. I did poorly at both and was undoubtedly a nuisance and a disrupting influence to my teachers and classmates although I do have some issue about how I was taught too and the very little effort that was expended to help me engage but I expect I was ghastly.
I wonder how different my life would have been if I had grown up with a different set of aspirations? ones that were about who I was and not what I wanted to be? I wonder also what life might have been like if I had grown up with a different understanding of the world as a place where anyone with courage and skill can become or do or achieve almost anything eventually rather than a world where you had a job and someone paid you to do it week in and week out, and if you were lucky you got a ‘good’ job in education or medicine or banking.
Today the world of work has changed dramatically and those young people looking for a career or job may well be looking for a very long time. The ones that have few qualifications are going to need to rely on the goodwill of family and friends if they are ever to get on and the ‘career’ option of early motherhood will appeal to more and more young women as work becomes harder to find.
Those young people who have been raised to understand that they are the source of their opportunities and options rather than the state or an employer will do well in a climate where bold action and courage count for so much.
And yet Personal, Social and Health Education remains a non compulsory part of the National Curriculum and parents who have poor life skills or workskills are raising another generation like themselves, mostly good people with sound morals and belief systems but little expertise in navigating the uncharted waters of life outside an organization or institution.
So what does your child want to be when they grow up and how do they think they will get there? And how can you help them to develop into a successful young adult? As for me I’m still waiting to find my perfect niche and I’m beginning to think there just might not be one!
IN THE TEST TUBE#3
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