Ages 3 – 5: Shopkeeper
My first professional yearnings were less than fantastical. It fell to my brother to provide my parents with ‘awww’-worthy declarations of wanting to grow up to be a robot or a sunflower or some other childish nonsense.
Not me, though. At odds with the household’s latent socialism, I wanted stuff. Where do you get stuff? The shops. How do get it? You exchange it for money, earned from a job. ‘Cut the middleman!’ shouted the scarily capitalist, icy logic of my nascent brain. ‘If you own the shop, you don’t have to pay for anything in it!’ Ma and Pa were probably consoled by the thought that I’d make it in business one day and be able to support the rest of the family’s hippie dreamin’.
Ages 6 – 12, 20: Palaeontologist
Old enough to wilfully ignore the faulty science in Jurassic Park, but young enough to pretend to be a velociraptor all day, every day, I realigned my career trajectory. What I really wanted to be was one of the dinosaurs but, as I said, my brother was the fantasist. Curse this fleshy human body! I was consoled by the knowledge that with my experience (built a model T-Rex out of rocks, caught mosquitoes and shoved them into tree sap ‘for future generations’) surely I could be the one to lend the BEST FILM EVER a prophetic element? I spent hours digging in the dirt or studying Prehistoric Life Explained in preparation for the day I’d finally resurrect my Mesozoic friends. Just before graduating from university and with unemployment looming, I revisited my childhood ambition with a quick Google search of job prospects for palaeobiology Ph.D graduates. Oh.
Ages 12 – 18: Marine Biologist
Remember when Blue Planet came out and every dork with a fishfinger sandwich wanted to be a marine biologist? That pissed me off. I wanted to do it way before it was, errm, ‘cool.’ The only problem with this delusion was that I accidentally took my adolescent love of psychedelic jellyfish all the way to degree level. I soon discovered I was resplendently hopeless at lab-coated precision; I was terrible at nurturing (kept killing my agar plate colonies), hated my classmates (they were all horse people), and was only really interested in amusing facts (a baby platypus is called a puggle). I retreated to the safety of the university newspaper office, where you didn’t have to wear dumb goggles.
Ages 18 – Present: Journalist
Ah, The Newspaper! Oh, The Magazine! Bestowing news and opinion onto a grateful and adoring public since time immemorial! Nothing sexier than a journalist, either. Notepad in one hand, observant eye in the other. It’s a quick flick though a filing cabinet while the corrupt politician isn’t looking and — BAM! — another Pulitzer for the crowded mantelpiece. What do you mean it’s all tweenage New Yorkers and their quirky cupcake blogs now? The news is about Emma Watson’s hairstyle? Oh heck, I’ll take it anyway. So, when do I get paid?
Ages 21 – 23: TEFL professional/ Bohemian
Fresh from graduation, trying to become a journalist looked a whole lot like hard work. It didn’t look like having loads of fun with all my friends! Well, I knew how to sort that out: teaching English abroad! Originally, I planned to live out the boho dream in Vancouver, but because it wasn’t boho enough and I forgot to do a teaching qualification before I left and ended up working in a supermarket, I relocated to Berlin. Which was too boho. I gave up my life of artistic poverty a year later, when it became clear you actually had to live in poverty.
Ages ?? – Present: Novelist
Who hasn’t thought, at one time or another, of writing a book? The only thing better than hearing a story is telling one, my gran probably used to say. All the frustrations, character development, plot twists! They could be yours to command! No longer will you be slave to the whims of some bird-obsessed, Oprah-offending author you’ll probably never meet! You’ll be able to pour all your thoughts, experiences, philosophies, even some of your very soul onto the page in an inky splurge!
The only problem with being a successful novelist is that you have to write a whole novel. Maybe even two or three!
Present Age – The day I move out of my old bedroom in my parents’ house: A Job
I only seemed to understand the importance of basic economics when I was sticking pennies up my nose. Shopkeeper me probably even identified being able to afford bread and candy and not having to tell people you live with your parents as important aspects of health and happiness.
Where are the real jobs on this list? WHAT is a real job? I appear to have spent too much time reading books like Flowers of Northern Cyprus and What Grown-Ups Do and not enough perusing the classifieds.
If you’re an employer with an opening in any of the above fields (or any fields at all), don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ll just be here, using a chopstick to eat tiny little bits of Marmite out of the jar, refreshing London Zoo’s vacancy page.