When I Wanted to Be an Astronaut (conclusion) (finally)


Over a month ago, I started writing a post about how my career aspirations have changed and evolved over the years.

3,250 words and five posts later, here we are.

I’m a freelance writer and editor. That’s what I tell people now when they ask what I do, and then if they seem interested, I may launch into a long-winded explanation of how I recently left my job and I’ve got a few clients and this little blog and I’m definitely looking for work, if they know of anyone who needs anything written, and…

You get the picture.

Now, while I never thought I’d end up writing SO. MUCH. about wanting to be an astronaut, a novelist, a marketer, I’m glad I did. Because the process of doing so, of thinking back to the different plans and goals I used to have, really drove something home to me.

While everything I’ve done, and everything about what I’m doing now, is the result of the choices I made, many of them weren’t activechoices.

Notably, I “fell into” marketing because it was the first job offer I got after college. I got assigned some social media tasks and that became my area of “expertise.” I took my next job with the agency because they were the first to offer me something after about two months of looking and I needed a paycheck.

Then I saw my future — my most-likely career path in the marketing industry — which would happen to me if I kept working hard at what I was supposed to do in my job. Six months ago, I was desperately miserable, staying in a job I couldn’t stand because we were trying to save money for a down payment. Next it would be mortgage payments. A baby. An addition to the house. Another baby. A bigger house. Retirement.

The further I went down this road, the fewer choices I would have. And they’d get harder and harder to make.

So I (with the help and encouragement of my husband) made an active choice. To take 100% control of my career. To have more freedom with more choices down the road. To figure out exactly what the hell I really want to do with my life.

While I don’t regret where I am now or what I’ve done, it’s hard not to look back and wonder if I was wrong when I chose to find a “real” job instead of fighting harder to do what I needed to pursue neuroscience. Or if I should have gone to a small liberal arts college typically favored by English majors — if that would have opened more doors and pushed me more writing-wise. If I’d minored in Statistics when I was a freshman, would I have found a corporate job that actually fulfilled me in a way that marketing didn’t? What if I’d tried out for the cross-country or track team at Cal Poly? Would I maybe be a coach or trainer now?

But the fact is — I didn’t do any of those things. For better or worse, I made different choices, and they’ve led me here. Three months ago, I wasn’t happy about that. Now, I am.