I always wanted to be a doctor... ever since I was in kindergarten. I remember getting a toy doctor set as a gift, and I think the idea of becoming a doctor was set that early in my life.
I was the only daughter, and I had two younger brothers, and I felt I had an intelligence tag from... pretty much since they named me Sofia. (Mom used to tell me she chose that name because it means wisdom, or something like that). They say I could read when I was just 3 years old and they noticed I also had a special musicality, so I started singing and playing the cuatro (Venezuelan traditional instrument) before I started to go to school.
I was often the top student of the class, or even the school. We lived in a quiet mountain town. The kind of town where everybody knows you and, by the time I was in high school I was still the most likely to become a doctor. I liked the idea, enjoyed my reputation, had a pretty nice life growing up. I kept singing.
When I was finishing high school I was offered the opportunity to spend a few months in the United States to learn English. And I went for it, the idea was to learn this important language before I got to college. English would make things easier, it would give me access to more sources, newer information, I would be top student and top doctor.
In The States I went to high school for 5 months. At first I couldn't understand anything, and it took me the whole afternoon to make homework because of the language. But I eventually got it. The greatest part of this experience was to sing in the school choir.
At the end of the winter I returned to my country and got prepared for college admission. I remember going over my friend's place to study for the exams to get in medical school. But we couldn't study...all I could do was talking about the choir and how great the music department was in the school I just came back from. So I had this revelation moment right there with my friend... I'm not going to take that test.... I'm not going to be a doctor. I found that music was my true calling.
Long story short, that night I told my parents and surprisingly they respected my decision, and supported me from the very beginning. I say surprisingly because normal parents back then wouldn't react that way to something like that. So I was relieved... And now I am a thankful music teacher and mom.
So, as a mother now, I want my kids to be able to make that kind of decisions for the right reasons and feeling supported the way I did. I am careful to let them know that I want them to be happy and not pick a career just to please me. Some of my friends didn't have my luck, and it made me sad... So I don't want to tag my kids "doctor" or "musician"... Or anything yet.
But my 10 year old boy came from school last week and told me he was a little worried because a teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he didn't know what to say. I told him that was perfectly normal because it is too soon to decide that.
"But my classmates, they all know what they want to be, Melanie wants to be a lawyer...!".
I told him they were probably as sure as I was about becoming a doctor when I was 10.
"They could be sure about it... It doesn't mean it's going to be like that".
Nonetheless, I was a little upset about the whole situation. I started wondering whether I'm not guiding my son the right way? What if by not pushing him in any direction is actually bad? What if he doesn't have any dreams or aspirations... after all, I did have my doctor dream... What does my son aspire to?
I also got mad at the school and teacher and classmates, for asking that kind of questions this early... But then I realized they can ask whatever they want... I was really mad at myself for not preparing my son for those questions and moments.
So enough of the guilty feelings and regrets, what can we do about it?
So I started looking for answers... I decided my son doesn't need to pick a career, because he doesn't even know enough about them. So what we need to do is career exploration.
Surfing the internet, I found a lot of resources meant for older teenagers, who are actually about to go to college. There are tests to know what you are good at -by the way that time in The States my test said I was good at writing-, but I haven't been able to find career exploration materials meant for younger kids, like mine.
I also think many careers are not going to be the same in the future, so I think it's important to try and picture how life is going to be 10-20 years from now and well, that can be a little overwhelming. I mean, I'm sure there are people doing jobs I don't even imagine right now in 2019. So I better start digging.
I managed to show my son a couple of videos about careers for the future, he gave me that "don't push it" look... But I'm yet to find the right video or resource I'd like.
I am looking for some kind of documentary on different careers starring actual professionals who can tell kids what they do for a living, and what does it take to become one of them.
I would also like a web page that would gather information abour all the careers, occupations that can possibly exist right now and in the near future, and the available options to study them.
I'm sure there is something like that somewhere, but the truth is, I haven't found it yet. I came up with this idea of how it can be made.... It could be a community service project at college. At least in some countrys in Latin America, every college student has to dedicate a number of hours to a project that doesn't necessarily has to do with their career, but needs to be a community service. I think creating that kind of materials is a good service for kids and teenagers who need to explore to find their true calling.
Anyway, if you have any ideas, resources or thoughts on this matter, I would really appreciate your feedback. I believe career choice is a big deal and we need to prepare our kids to be happy and make decisions that harmonize their own reality and the society they are part of.
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