How Your Childhood Interests Could Predict Your Career Path
It’s crazy to look back and compare your child self to where you are currently in your life. What’s lead you to where you are, how have you changed, how has your personality evolved?
And recently, while doing so, I realized that the things I enjoyed as a child, while never thought of as “what I wanted to do when I grew up”, have actually become what I’m doing now as a twenty-four year old woman (after as much trial and error as you can fit into two years post-college grad).
Let me give you a few scenarios…
Picture a teeny Tina climbing out of her crib like a silent ninja, alerted by the bumping bass coming from the living room. My mother and grandmother would do step aerobics together every morning while we lived at my grandparents house in Miami before moving to Memphis.
And just about every morning, while my mother was getting her “me” time in with my grandmother, escaping the insanity that was me as a child (my sister sleeping in the bed next to me like a little angel), I would come running in yelling “ETHERTHITHE” (that’s “exercise” with a pathetic two-year-old lisp).
I proceeded to try and mimic them by stepping up and down to the video. This, my friends, was the first sign that I would put my pent up energy toward fitness, and develop a passion of sorts. And now… I’m working for a fitness tech startup, active in my city’s fitness community, sharing what I’ve learned from this lifestyle, finding joy in the accomplishment that stems from a morning sweat.
Even though I was a picky eater as a child, (so I’m told, although I refuse to believe that… despite me remembering instances where my parents were almost to the point of bribing me to finish my dinner. But I digress.) I loved to “cook”.
No, I was not a child chef prodigy like those kids on the Food Network. Unfortunately. But, I was given a ‘little tikes’ toy kitchen as a kiddo, and you couldn’t get me to stop ‘play cooking’ if you paid me in candy. I recall pretending that I had my own cooking show, speaking to my pretend audience, explaining every “meal” I made, and how I made it.
I also used to play with sand at the playground, pretending that I was making a meal, on said cooking show. Is this foreshadowing, or was I just weird? Let’s go with the first one.
And as I grew up, I realized that it’s hard out here for a tween.
I pulled out the kiddie picnic table, made a giant pitcher of lemonade, set up an umbrella, grabbed some poster board and made a “Lemonade $1” sign, and boom. Open for business.
I have photos of me and my awkward self at said lemonade stand that I could share, but I won’t do that to myself.
As a youngin’, I would always sit down and write narratives. And so many times I settled down at my desk to “write a book” – granted, I would get about five pages in and run out of fuel, but I always enjoyed writing. The essay section of our standardized tests were my favorite part – the only part I felt confident with. Anything that gave me the chance to be creative.
It was the best day of my life as a kid, because my dad got my sister and I a basketball hoop for our driveway in Memphis. I went on to play basketball for about five years, but this particular day/night was my first time holding a basketball and shooting it.
It was late afternoon when the hoop was set up on our driveway. And I stayed outside shooting that basketball until I made at least one shot. I would not go inside until that ball made it into that damn net. I was a little twerp throwing myself into the air, trying to gain enough momentum to hear a “swoosh”.
I ended up getting the shot I worked on for hours, and finally went inside for some chicken nugs.
As a freshman in high school, I inherited my grandfather’s giant Canon DSLR. I was coincidentally taking a photography class that semester, where I learned all about the basics of photography (however, we didn’t touch on digital photography). That was the start of my love for photography. I went on to shoot all of the basketball games for our school’s yearbook. I created a Flickr account with all of my photos from my school’s sports, family vacations, and around-the-house doodads.
I even had a dream to study photography in college. I went to my university’s orientation set on studying business and photography together so that I could open my own photography studio. My mind changed as my love for sports trumped the photography dreams I thought were unattainable (real confident, little Tina) and I chose to study the business of sports. Which I now realize was a roundabout way of pushing myself into a field of study revolving around exercise, without having to actually take any science classes.
From art contests to designing our high school’s yearbook pages (back when I was an InDesign pro, now… notsomuch), I always yearned to be creative. Hence why I was so miserable at my first job out of college – I could not be creative in any way, shape, or form. I have creative juices pumping through my veins, and I have a deep desire and need to use them everyday.
How My Childhood Passions Connect to My Current Career Path
By now you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with anything.
Here’s the point. These were all things that I did naturally, intuitively as a child. And the funny thing is, I always felt so insecure, almost lost, because I was the only one in my group of friends that never felt confident in my answer to the age old question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
My answer was always, “I want to own my own business.”.
I had no idea what this meant, but to li’l me, this was the way to go. Then there was the occasional career goals of being an SNL cast member, or an artist, each of which quickly faded into the abyss of my childhood imagination. And yes, I’ve watched and loved SNL for as long as I can remember (minus now, ‘cause it almost always sucks nowadays. #tbt to the Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon days amiright? Okay, moving on.).
So I had all of these things that I enjoyed naturally, yet I never felt like I had a purpose. I was never that kid that knew she was going to be a lawyer or knew she was in love with science or knew she was going to be a news anchor.
But there is something to be said about the activities you naturally enjoy as a child. Not once did I ever say I would do anything with my love for writing, exercise, or cooking. I never said “I’m going to be a personal trainer” or “I’m going to be a chef”. I just kind of, enjoyed them… never thinking twice about it. Which, for a career path, could be the best way to start.
So, if you’re in a stage of feeling lost in your purpose or your path (which I have definitely experienced), it could be worthwhile to look back into your past.
Ask your parents what you enjoyed as a child, something you never looked very deep into. Maybe it’s pretty obvious that you enjoyed soccer because you played it for five years, or maybe you are known for having danced since you were three. But ask about the little things – what were you innately drawn to? What were your interests? All of the things I listed are things I remember enjoying (and still do), but didn’t necessarily connect them to what I’m doing now, until recently. I just never really gave it much thought. But once I did, a big fat “holy sh*t” blinked through my mind.
Join the conversation:
Have you noticed any of your childhood interests appearing in your chosen field?
Is your life now similar or completely different to what you thought you wanted to be as a child?