But Really, What DO I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

Do you remember when you were little and what you wanted to be when you grew up changed from day to day? Maybe one day you saw a really neat TV show about space and your young self decided in that moment that you were going to be an astronaut, there was no question about it…until the next day, when you realized just how much you loved to dance, and settled on a career as a ballerina. That is, until the next day when you discovered something equally as exciting that you wanted to be when you grew up. When I was growing up, I recall that for a while I wanted to be a third grade teacher (really only because that was the grade we learned cursive in at my elementary school, and I loved cursive), but I also dreamed of being a movie star, a singer, a famous author, and a full-time mom. It was a continuous and awesome cycle of new discoveries, without any immediate fear of having to make a decision, since those decisions were so far off!

Since coming back from the Postal Museum, I can safely say that this pattern of going back and forth between possible future professions has been my life (or close to it). I feel like I’m five years old again and I’m dreaming of all the possible career options I could have, except it’s becoming more and more terrifying and real because I’m graduating from college in May. I now know that I don’t want to be a curator; when I left the Postal Museum, I was convinced that Museum Education was the way to go. Now I’m not so sure. What about a career in Preservation or Collections? Do I even want to go into a museum career anymore? I got it into my head that that was exactly what I wanted to do. I was so damn sure about a career in museums that I didn’t even question if it was what I really wanted for myself or if it was simply what I thought I wanted for myself–a fantastic career path for a history and English major who was sick and tired of people looking at me doubtfully and asking, “so, what are you going to do with those majors?”

It was only after returning from my Postal Museum Internship that I started to question these career aspirations. Recently, I started working at the campus archives here at UMM–a small gig, only four hours a week–which got me wondering about a career in archives. I was really excited about that for a week or two (I was having a really introverted few weeks, and a job hiding in an archive for my whole life sounded pretty neat), and then I started to reconsider Museum Education. Today I had the strange thought that becoming a University Professor might be fun–strange, because after my short-lived aspiration to become a third grade teacher was replaced by some other grand ambition, I realized that the idea of actually teaching is terrifying to me. I love research and I’m drawn to it, but I’m not sure if I want to do it for the rest of my life, the main reason I nixed the curator possibility. University Professors do research outside of teaching…so I wouldn’t have to be doing research the whole time (just a lot of it), and teaching college students doesn’t seem as terrifying to me as teaching say, anyone younger than college-age.

I do know that history is what I’m passionate about, so a career in some sort of profession that focuses on history would be ideal. I also know that I don’t have to have my whole life figured out by the time I graduate from college. Despite this knowledge, I have this pressing need to have it all figured out. I keep having to tell myself, “Stop being so unrealistic, girl!”  I’m having a really hard time listening to those wise words though.

There’s a really neat scholarship available through the University of Minnesota that allows seniors who would graduate under regular circumstances at the end of their fourth year to take a fifth year of undergraduate studies abroad. I’m seriously considering applying for this scholarship because, not only do I kind of wish that I would have studied abroad for a whole semester or year while in college, but I also think that time would give me the opportunity to volunteer at a museum or archive abroad while studying, which would ideally give me a better idea of what my future career goals really are.

Lately, I’ve been having to remind myself that I don’t have to everything figured out right here, right now. That’s hard though! I just want to enjoy senior year, but these feelings of uncertainty about the future are causing more anxiety than is healthy at this point.

Message to self: C’mon Britta, get your shit together and concentrate on the now! Tomorrow is a new day; stop worrying about it so much. Cheesy, yes, but it’s to the point AND SO IMPORTANT!

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