Today I made my first year class write about their dream job and then share that dream with one another in small groups. After everyone had shared their stories, I then asked them to think about what the first step on the road to that dream would be; what could they do now?
Before the class ended one of my students said, “What about you, Cathi? Do you have your dream job?”
Ah, now there is the question. They wanted me to say that being their College Professor was my dream but that wouldn’t be truthful. I paused for a minute and said, “No, I’m still on the path to that job. One day, I hope.”
And my students seemed to take some satisfaction in that answer. They can see (based on my own antiquity) that it is a long road but a worthwhile one.
On my drive home I thought about the “Dream Job” and I wondered if it ever really exists. When we are young we think anything is possible. In my early to mid-20s my dream was to be a writer and then I was a REAL writer for 3 years. I wrote novels with such abandon. I was always so sure that one would be published. And then the rejection letters came.
And yet I learned so much about writing in those three years. I learned how to sit at my computer and see a manuscript through to the end. I learned how to shift my poetic voice into prose. And I learned how lonely and dangerous writing can be.
Now, as I finish my last month or so as a student and embark on another leg of the journey, I wonder what the dream really is? For many years I believed that teaching was not for me. I vehemently denied wanting to pursue a teaching career even when I was told over and over again by so many different people that I should teach.
And then I fell into teaching. I was recruited to be a peer tutor which led to a paid tutor position which led to instructor positions and eventually to where I am now. Now I can admit that I love to teach but my dream at 18 certainly was not the reality of today. And I think in many ways I’m still learning what I really want.
And some days even the best job feels like a grind and we wonder if we truly are on the right path.
I didn’t have the heart to share all that with my students today. They are so young and so keen to start on their own paths to success. Today the stars are the limit and that’s one of the reasons I love working with them.
But part of me is sad that I’ve lost a bit of that starry-eyed hope. My dreams are slightly tainted with cynicism and, as idealistic as I am, reality shines through the cracks in the dream. Still most days I am satisfied and more days than not I am inspired and awed by my students.
Does that dream job truly exist? The most I can say is some days it does.