What I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up

August 26, 2013
Teen Writer

Last week, Jess wrote a great post about how she was going to stay true to herself and turn her passion into a career. It made me think about the fact that I am now doing something I am passionate about (writing – and about finance-related topics, at that) but that my route to finally starting a career as a writer was a little unusual. Let me explain.

As a child, I had only one true passion: reading. I’ve mentioned some of this before, but I have vivid memories of reading from a very young age. When I was 5 years old, I catalogued the books I owned and turned my little collection into a mock library for the kids in my neighbourhood to borrow from. I also remember going to the local library every weekend and picking out a new stack of books, all of which would be read before returning to get more the following weekend. Thanks to my mom for saving them, I still own about 50 of the Sweet Valley books I read when I was between the ages of probably 7-9 years old. And because I’ve been reading since I was so young, it’s no surprise that I also fell in love with writing.

I remember drawing more as a kid, than I do writing, but there’s one memory that does stick out. The first time my mom brought her computer home from work (and it was massive, so I can’t even imagine how she carried it), she turned it on for me and let me type. My fingers hunted and pecked out all of the letters I needed to make little orange words scrawl across the black screen. I have absolutely no idea what I would have written back then, but I do remember saving my work and feeling as if those files were prized possessions. How funny would it be to read now what you wrote as an 8-year-old?

I don’t know what I wrote back then, but I do know what my writing was like a few years later. This past Christmas, my dad gave me an envelope full of notes written between myself and my friends from when we were probably 12-14 years old. As I read through some of them, I was both embarrassed by my words and at the thought that my dad had once read them. I quickly laughed it off and realized that each note was more hilarious than the last. I also noticed one thing about all of them and that’s that my writing style hasn’t changed: I recalled events and told stories, and that’s something I still love doing today.

All of those memories make it obvious that I’ve always loved reading and writing, right? Well, I lost track of that when I was 17…

When I was in high school, I was good at English, of course. But then I aced a couple of accounting courses and somehow decided that was the career path for me. I finished Grade 12 thinking I was going to go to college, become an accountant, and help companies and people balance their books; that dream died fast. Upon graduating from high school, I was accepted into the Business Administration program at Camosun College in Victoria. As September approached, I was so excited to start my new classes. What I had not anticipated is that – for the first time in my life – I would fail two of them. Can you guess which ones? Accounting and Finance. (I’ll wait for you stop laughing, before I continue. Done? Thanks!)

As you can imagine, I felt lost. Isn’t this what I was supposed to be doing with my life!? Apparently not (yet, anyway). Because I had failed the two classes, I couldn’t move onto the second semester of the program and, therefore, had to drop out. At only 18, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next. I did a little research and found that the college offered one other program that sparked my interest; it was the Applied Communication program (ACP), which unfortunately no longer exists. ACP was a media generalist program that taught students the practical, hands-on skills required to work in publishing, radio, televison, etc. My major was in publishing, which I worked in for 5 years after I graduated from the program in 2007.

A few years into my career, I decided to go back to school and finish my BA in Communications at Royal Roads University (RRU). I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: when you start getting good grades in school, you’re in the program you’re meant to be in – that’s how I felt about my time at RRU, anyway. I was busy working full-time and taking 2-3 classes at a time, but I could still spit out two papers in a weekend if I needed to and get nothing below a B+. I loved what I was learning and all of the people I’d met in the program but, at the end of third year, I almost dropped out. Why? Because it was June 2011 and I was maxed out. The financial stress + working full-time + going to school was almost too much. Fortunately, a few pushes from peers and one of my professors was enough to keep me in school. As for my finances, I started this blog – and you know what that’s done for my career since.

So, while I may not be an accountant, I think it’s both hilarious and fascinating that my current job is a combination of two passions I’ve had for a very long time: writing and finance. (I get to read a lot, too.) So far, I know a lot about budgeting and mortgages… but I think it’s time to dive a little deeper, don’t you?

What did you want to be when you grew up? How far off is it from what you do today?

Flickr: 50521389@N08

  • Sara Hamil @ They Call it Gumption August 27, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Ha ha, I write about this one a LOT, mostly because I’m in a perpetual state of denial.

    I cycled through a lot of different ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I could never really commit to anything because I didn’t really WANT to grow up. The only one passion I pursued for any real length of time was art and a desire to work in animation production. That got unhinged basically at the last second when I realized that, as much as I loved the field, I lacked the drive to turn it into a career. I was afraid that working in it would kill my love for it and opted to keep it as a hobby instead.

    This is a pretty pathetic reason to give up on a dream but I can’t say that I really regret it- I’ve gone on to do some pretty cool things and am still able to avidly follow my love of animation on my own terms.

    • Cait August 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      It’s not pathetic. I don’t think everyone has to turn their passion into a career. The fact that you keep yours alive as a hobby is fantastic!

  • Shannon-ReadyForZero August 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I LOVE the fact that you created a catalogued library of your books for your friends when you were a kid. That is seriously awesome! If only we grew up in the same place :). I definitely always wanted to be a writer and I’m so glad I finally made it happen after about a million different career paths!

    • Cait August 27, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      I still have some of the books! On the inside covers, they say “#1” or whatever number they were and then my address at the time, haha.

  • Gillian August 28, 2013 at 6:39 am

    It is crazy how similar we were as children. I LOVED reading and writing. I would do this reading contest every summer, and read hundreds of books. It was insane. ” I aced a couple of accounting courses and somehow decided that was the career path for me. ” Yep. I had no clue what I wanted to do after school, so I decided to take accounting in University. After half a semester I dropped out, for a number of reasons but also because I was not sure accounting was what I wanted to do.

    Now, I am writing about finance and, well serving but hopefully that will change one day! I’d love to start writing full-time one day, but for now I’ll keep my day jobs until I find more writing opportunities!

    • Cait August 28, 2013 at 9:33 am

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Gillian! It IS crazy how similar we were as kids. :)