By Salynda Hogsett
I’ve only given one successful haircut: my dad needed a few long hairs trimmed from around his ears.
Fast forward a few years and you’ll find me a month into my sophomore year at college. A new friend wanted his hair buzzed down with a razor on a #2 guard, faded around the ears. Easy enough except for the fact that clippers that he had borrowed from his friend kept making harsh buzzing noises like they were about to fly apart and eat his head. The haircut itself went pretty well, but then it was time for the fade. I didn’t think it would be that hard, but one smooth motion later I had shaved a completely bald stripe around his ear. By some miracle, he and I are still friends, but I haven’t cut hair since.
As a kid, my first choice of careers was waitressing. But I had a hard time balancing a tray on my hand, so my next aspiration was to be a hairdresser (you can see how well that went). I toyed around with the idea of engineering, but after realizing how much math went into that, I switched to geology. For my first two years of high school, I was dead set on geology, and many National Geographic documentaries showing the lives of field scientists fueled that passion. I was more enchanted with the lifestyle than the job.
I eventually lost interest in geology. My parents expected me to go to college, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Then little clues started flowing in: an advertisement for an online travel writing class, a spiritual gifts test that said one of my gifts was writing. I was starting to get an inkling.
One morning while on a walk, my mom and I started talking about my future (terrifying). I told her that I was thinking about writing. I guess I expected her to tell me about how hard a career it is, or how small the job market is, but instead she just told me to go for it. My dad jumped on board too, and now I’m one year away from graduating with a bachelor’s degree in writing.
Looking back on all my different “career” paths, I’m reminded of how in childhood everything seemed possible. In a child’s mind, I could be a hairdressing waitress who travels all over the world on the weekends to study rocks and then writes about her adventures. Or I could scratch all that and be an actor. I could be anything I wanted to be.
I don’t know how, why, or where, but at some point along the line I stopped thinking like that. I stopped thinking in terms of the dreamable, and instead started thinking in terms of the probable: I could probably get a job at a newspaper, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to travel the world and write about it. Maybe it’s because when you have bills to pay, and several thousand dollars of student debt piling up, your vision starts narrowing from what you really want to do to what will pay the bills.
And I don’t want to live like that.
I want a job that I love: a job that makes me want to get up in the morning, that gives me purpose. I want a job that allows me to empower other people, to encourage them in their dreams. I want a job that interests me, that doesn’t become mundane after a month or two.
I’m still not sure what that job will look like. Maybe it will be as an editor for an online media company or magazine, or maybe it will be as a blogger, or a reporter. I don’t know.
It’s easy to look at the future and say, it’s impossible.
But I’ll bet if I asked my five-year-old self, she would say go for it.