Dreaming Big, Aiming Low & Figuring Out What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

September 25, 2011

A while back, I wrote that one of the things I love about Americans is that we know how to dream big. As kids, we all want to be rock stars and dolphin trainers and astronauts when we grow up. And, bless our little hearts, we all believe that given enough willpower and elbow grease (and possibly a spot on a reality television show) we can make those dreams come true.

Well, most of us want to be rock stars and dolphin trainers and astronauts when we grow up.

I, on the other hand, had completely different dreams for myself when I was a kid.

In the fifth grade, I decided I wanted to be a laboratory technician when I grew up.

What?

Isn’t that what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Sure, this may have seemed like an odd career choice for a ten-year-old girl – especially for a ten-year-old girl like myself.

I had a lot of hobbies at the time, but performing science experiments was not particularly one of them. I had no interest in dissecting animals. And, well, I probably couldn’t have told you the difference between the periodic table and a dining room table.

Let’s just say, my pursuits were not exactly intellectual.

For example, I really enjoyed dressing up farm animals in doll clothes. (And, seriously, if you never dressed a goat in a dress when you were a kid, then you obviously did the whole childhood thing wrong. Just saying.)

I was also pretty good at hot gluing stuff together. In fact, I would say I could wield a hot glue gun better than most fifth graders I knew — mostly because I was the only fifth grader I knew who was allowed to play with a hot glue gun.

And, despite never having received any formal dance training in my life, I fancied myself something of a dancer. Mind you, I tried to get some training, but when I asked my mother if I could take dance lessons she informed me that I was not “the graceful type” and that she wasn’t about to “throw away good money.”

Not one to give up easily when it came to proving my mother wrong, I spent months in my bedroom secretly working on an interpretative jazz routine to Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach.” I felt the song really embodied my own fierce defiance of parental prohibitions. Plus, the lyrics lent themselves to a showstopper of a finale in which I’d pull a Cabbage Patch Doll from under my shirt to symbolize the baby I was “gonna keep.” I was planning on making the big public debut of my performance just as soon as I finished hot gluing my costume together.

But then pollination changed my life.

That year, I was the only student in the entire class to get a hundred percent on the final science exam. It had been my accurate labeling of a stamen that had secured my perfect score.

What can I say, I knew a thing or two about the birds and the bees. (The real birds and the bees that is — not the figurative ones. The figurative ones would continue to confuse me for, ummm, ever. I mean, are the girls supposed to be the birds in this scenario and the guys are the bees? Or is it the other way around? And if you’re a bird, is there some way you can learn to talk to bees? You know, without the aid of liquor?)

I had even managed to beat out the teacher’s pet – a feat I had never dreamed possible. This was a girl who could rattle off the capitals of all fifty states and could climb all the way to the top of the rope in gym class.

I, on the other hand, hadn’t even known the states had capitals. (I mean, really? A capital for each state? Isn’t that a bit much? Can’t some of the smaller states just, you know, share a capital?)

And, as for being able to climb the rope in gym class?

Not a chance.

The best I could hope to do was hang piñata-like at the bottom of the rope for a few minutes until I’d start to cry and the gym teacher would take pity on me.

When the science exams were handed back, our teacher made a big deal about my grade and about the fact that I had been the only person to get a hundred percent.

I took my score on the exam as a sign.

It was obvious I had a calling – to science.

I briefly dreamed of becoming some big, hotshot scientist when I grew up – maybe even making an appearance on 3-2-1 Contact or landing the cover of Weekly Reader.

These dreams didn’t last long, though. I decided that becoming a scientist sounded like it would take a lot more effort and ambition than I was really capable of. Maybe, I reasoned, I’d be better suited at helping scientists rather than actually becoming one.

That’s when I decided to become a laboratory technician. This sounded like a solid, stable career choice that would afford me a little extra free time to pursue my non-scientific interests – like, say, hot gluing stuff.

A couple years later in the eighth grade, I would give up my dream of becoming a laboratory technician in favor of becoming a veterinarian’s assistant. After a lackluster performance in chemistry and little to no interest in physics, I decided maybe it was best if I stuck to the life sciences – specifically, the life sciences that wouldn’t involve much human interaction as I still wasn’t particularly good at talking to boys.

While many of my friends dreamed of becoming veterinarians, I had heard veterinary school was highly competitive and could take at least eight years to complete.

Who had that kind of time?

Besides, I’d learned a thing or two from my years of hanging off the bottom of the rope at gym class – namely, aim low.  

I didn’t need to be on the cover of Weekly Reader or save anyone’s pet pony.

All I needed was a steady, nine-to-five job that would allow me a little free time for my creative pursuits… and maybe a little extra change to buy myself a new hot glue gun now and again.

Over the past twenty-some years, my career aspirations have changed considerably.

I gave up all hope of working in a laboratory. (This is probably for the best. I look horrible in white and could never pull off a lab coat. Plus, I have a tendency to set my toaster oven on fire. I can’t even imagine the kind of damage I’d do with a Bunsen burner.)

After seeing a goat give birth, I decided I wasn’t quite cut out to be a veterinarian’s assistant. (But, hey, I still think I’d make a pretty fine goat dress designer… you know, should that ever become a thing.)

I’ve even, dare I say, had a few high hopes for myself.

(Maybe a bit too high. For a while in college, I entertained the idea of becoming a puppeteer despite lacking the ability to talk and move my hands at the same time. As much as it pains me to admit this, my mother was right about me. Not only am I not the graceful type, I am also not exactly the coordinated type.)

Then, somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. (Okay, I was about twenty-eight years old when I decided that, so, technically, I was already “grown up” at that point. But, whatever. I refuse to believe I’m grown up until I stop considering a tube of Oreos a suitable meal replacement and I, uh,  figure out what the heck a 401K is.)

Despite my earlier aversion to having to do any more schooling than absolutely necessary, I went to grad school to get my Master’s degree in Education and then landed myself a well-paying job at a university in Japan.

I had high hopes for myself and my career.

But, when I left my job in Japan after three years, I felt burnt out and unsure as to whether I really wanted to be a teacher anymore. I took a year off from teaching in the hopes that it would give me the break I needed, and I would come back to the classroom feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

I can’t say that exactly happened.

My first semester here in China was not an easy one for me.

I arrived in February to a bleak, grey, wintery Wuxi. After a year of living in sunny Southeast Asia, my immune system revolted, and I promptly came down with a respiratory infection that I seriously suspected might be tuberculosis. Or Black Lung. Or possibly rickets. (Yeah, I realize that rickets doesn’t have much to do with the respiratory tract, but it is kind of my go-to diagnosis when I come down with something funky… mostly because I like the word “rickets.”)

My classroom looked like something straight out of Little House on the Prairie, complete with wooden desks and creaky, old chalkboards. To add to the rusticity, there was no heat in my classroom. For the first two months until the weather warmed up, my students sat through class like they were ready to hit the ski slopes — in puffy parkas, hats and gloves. For a little extra warmth, many of my students hugged hot water bottles during class. (Yep. Hot water bottles. I mean, did you even know those things still existed?)

My students were a hodgepodge of twenty-year-olds whose level of English ranged from pretty decent to totally no clue what I was saying. They were well-behaved for the most part, but they were also largely unmotivated and, frankly, more interested in covertly tapping out messages on their cell phones than learning anything about thesis statements. (And, really, who could blame them? But still would it have hurt them to fake a little enthusiasm for thesis statements? I mean I had to fake enthusiasm for teaching thesis statements. It was the least they could do, really.)

The only time I saw my students truly impassioned and willing to speak up in class last semester was when they were begging me to let them go to lunch early.

I did not feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

I just felt disgruntled. (Which, I believe, is also a sign of rickets. Seriously, people, I’ve got the rickets. Is there something I can take for that?)

When I signed up for another semester, my hopes were not particularly high.

In fact, my aspirations were pretty on par with those of my ten-year-old self.

I just wanted a steady job that would allow me a little extra time for my creative endeavors, like working on this blog and writing my book. Seeing as I only teach four days a week here, I have plenty of time to do that. (Theoretically, that is. Mind you, I tend to spend a lot more time watching reality television than writing. But, uh, yeah, I’m working on that. Or I will work on that, you know, right after this season of Project Runway has finished up.)

And, while my wage isn’t much, it covers my expenses and still leaves me enough on the side to save for a rainy day. (And, yes, by “rainy day” I mean “when I get the rickets.” What did you think I meant?)

Given my low expectations for the semester, I figured I would just take a page out of my gym class rope climbing days to get me through it – namely, I’d aim low and hang in there. You know, and then cry if I had to.

When I arrived at my first day of class three weeks ago, I was greeted by collective groans and eye rolling from my students… followed promptly by them pleading to please let them go to lunch early this semester.

This was not exactly the warm welcome back to the classroom I had been hoping for.

Luckily, things got better.

In my other three classes, my students seemed almost, dare I say, happy to see me. (Either that or they are finally starting to learn the art of faking enthusiasm. I’d like to think I’ve taught them that. In addition to, you know, the exciting intricacies of a thesis statement.)

I even found myself, dare I say, happy to see them. After a pretty quiet summer spent mostly on my own, it’s nice to be surrounded by people again — even if those people are just faking enthusiasm for thesis statements so you’ll let them go to lunch early. (This, by the way, totally works.)

And, for the first time in a long time, I’ve found myself excited about teaching again.

I’m still not sure if I want to be a teacher when I grow up.

But, I am happy to be a teacher right now.

(You know, until I grow up, stop eating cookies for dinner and figure out what a 401K is… and, hopefully by then, goat dress designing will have become a thing.)

63

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On September 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm Theodora said:

    Ah! I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I was confident that by age 24 or so I’d be married, in a stable job, and have a couple of kids. Life seemed so wonderfully simple then.
    Theodora recently posted..The Friday Photo: Inside an Underground River

    • On September 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm Sally said:

      Oh, don’t I know it. I was totally supposed to be married by now — preferably to someone with a hefty paycheck and an appreciation for hired help. My job was just going to be this thing I did to get out of the house. 🙂

  2. On September 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm Michi said:

    Another great post. You had me giggling the entire time, and I love your honesty. I wanted to be an “author” when I grew up….teaching just sort of fell into my lap, but I’m forever grateful for it. As you’ve said, it doesn’t pay much, but it’s enough. Enthusiasm DOES make or break a class! I love working with the younger children in the afternoons as they’re constantly OOZING enthusiasm, they love you unconditionally and enjoy simple things like shrieking out “Teacher, teacher, how do you say _______ in English?!” Then I give English classes to teenagers and young adults in the evenings, which produces somewhat of a drop in my self-confidence levels. But I’ve learned to make a darn good fool of myself in order to get them to participate and learn, and hopefully we’ll get there.

    Thanks again for another lovely post. 🙂
    Michi recently posted..I Heart MondeLinks! (7 of them).

    • On September 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, Michi. Glad you enjoyed the post.
      I have total respect for everyone who teaches kids. I’ve only taught children a few times but it was pretty dreadful. I’m horrible at discipline & I have a tendency to swear under my breath without realizing it. That’s why I’ve mostly taught college students. (I can do the stern “You are adults. You should be acting like adults!” tactic on them in lieu of actually disciplining them.) Personally, my favorite group of people to teach are adults. I used to teach adults in Brazil & the States, and I LOVED it. I found them to be much more motivated and you could be more relaxed with them. (Plus, it didn’t really matter if they heard you swearing.) And, you know, that whole acting like a darn good fool works with them pretty well, too. (Trust me. I have that act DOWN.)

  3. On September 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm MaryAnne said:

    Oh god, I hope that when I have to go back to teaching when my free-ride residence permit expires in July I’ll feel revitalized. Half of me just wants to tell Doug I’ll be happy to be a housewife if he’s okay with, um, doing all the working for a living. I’ve never aimed high because I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do enough to devote career-building time/energy/tuition to, especially if said career-building cut into my slacker travel/reading/lounging time. Those are the things I value!

    Funnily enough, I was 28 when I decided to start teaching too. Must be something about that age. Maybe it’s the ease with which it allows us to run away AND have long paid holidays.
    MaryAnne recently posted..Why, No, Red-Black is Not My Natural Hair Colour: How to Try to Look Half Decent in China

    • On September 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm Sally said:

      Well, we’ll see how long my current revitalization lasts. I’m a bit worried it will vanish when the lovely weather vanishes… and I’ll be back to being my burnt out grumbly self when winter shows up and I’m forced to wear a parka & gloves to teach in!
      Good luck with the housewife thing. Here’s hoping Doug agrees. 🙂

  4. On September 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm Gillian @OneGiantStep said:

    Hmmm…well I AM a Laboratory Technologist (yes, it should always be capitalized…makes me feel important) and am trying desperately to give it all up so that I can be on the road more and write. I’ve considered teaching but am not sure I have the patience…although if we couldn’t understand each other it might be more tolerable. I’m glad you’re settling in so well.
    Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..Ten Must See Deserts

    • On September 26, 2011 at 12:40 am Sally said:

      Well, I’m pretty sure I could never have made it as a Laboratory Technologist (sorry for my lack of capitalization!). My sister is one (well, I’m not sure if that’s her exact title, but she works in a laboratory and does tons of stuff with lab mice). Her job sounds really stressful to me. Plus, I’ve never exactly been very precise or very good at following procedures (I get easily distracted by shiny stuff).

  5. On September 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm TravelMaus said:

    It doesn’t get any easier, Sally. I’m , erhem…er..err.. 50 something ( I just couldn’t make myself write the actual figure) and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be. Dressing goats sounds like a viable option to me! I don’t know much about goats, though…better make that sheep!

  6. On September 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm ayan said:

    atleast someones not faking enthusiasm when reading your blog =)
    ayan recently posted..love.letter

  7. On September 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm Erik said:

    I went to college and was educated as a teacher. I taught my first three years out of school and loved the teaching part of the job, not all the administrative red tape that went along with it. If you have the right group of students, it can be a great job. Glad to hear yours are better this semester!
    Erik recently posted..Photo of the Day- Delegate’s Hall, Independence NHP, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    • On September 26, 2011 at 12:34 am Sally said:

      Erik,
      So true about the administrative red tape. This was one of the big things that burnt me out while teaching in Japan. The administration at my school here in China is much more hands off, which definitely has its positives and negatives.

  8. On September 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm Mario Lurig said:

    Goat dress designing is probably a thing; you just have to find the audience and make it a thing.
    I just looked at the ‘Top 30 countries with goats’ and guess what?
    #1 with 148,412,000 – China

    Yup. You’re following your dream and you didn’t even know it. Instincts. I’m tellin’ you, instincts.
    Mario Lurig recently posted..Switching Gears: Author Mode

  9. On September 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm Ken C. said:

    First of all, goats are born fully clothed. Okay, maybe just a scarf if it’s especially chilly…or one of those straw hats perched at a jaunty angle. But, no dresses…
    Secondly, you do not have rickets. Just put that out of your mind.
    Thirdly, I didn’t believe that “rusticity” was a real word. You made me look it up. Now, I don’t want to be the one to tell you that flaunting your education isn’t very attractive. Enough said, Miss Grad School graduate?

    Finally, it’s wonderful that your students are becoming more motivated, and that teaching is again fulfilling for you. When I was in high school, I also dreamed of becoming a teacher. Later, I came to realize that teaching was an incredible amount of work, so I thought educational administration would be more doable. Still thinking it through.

    This was a great post. Childhood aspirations have amazing power.

    • On September 26, 2011 at 12:31 am Sally said:

      Ken,
      You should really know better than to doubt me about goats and/or vocabulary words. I know a few things about those two topics. (And that’s pretty much the only topics I know anything about, so you’re free to doubt me on anything else I blather on about.)

  10. On September 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm Jessica said:

    OMG I wanted to be a dolphin trainer!! Then I decided at the age of 9 that that wasn’t really practical so I decided to do Marine Biology. Then someone told me all you learn about was sponges (so not true) so I decided I wanted to become a Zoologist. Somehow at high school I was good at science and I loved genetics so I decided to a BBiomedSci in health and disease…which involves a lot of Biochemistry and not alot of genetics. I failed Physics twice so ended up doing a BSc in Biochemistry with a minor in Genetics.
    I decided after graduation (and marriage….how the hell did that happen) that I wanted to do Forensics…which I promptly did a degree in…then realised you cant really get jobs in Forensics unless you have a PhD…which I don’t have the ambition to do sadly.

    So where am I now? Back at the University I did my Bachelors degree at working as a Lab tech. Im sure this was not what I had originally planned to do.

    By the way, our lab coats are purple.

    At 26 I am having a quater life crisis. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. My life is not what my 13 year old self would of imagined…Im actually married…didn’t think that would ever happen since I was the dorkiest kid at high school and never had a single date.

    Got to love those life ambitions really….never works out the way you planned.

    • On September 26, 2011 at 12:29 am Sally said:

      Wow, purple lab coats? That changes EVERYTHING.
      I hear you about not knowing what to do with your life. But, to be honest, I think some people have one true strong calling and those people find the career they’re meant to do for the rest of their life & just thrive in it. While the rest of us have multiple callings (or tons of random interests) and are meant to just keep trying out new things until something eventually sticks (at least for a couple years until we get distracted by a new shiny career and decide to move on).

  11. On September 26, 2011 at 12:36 am Heather said:

    My first aspiration was to work at Hershey’s like my grandmother (she was on the Reese’s cup line!). During college I had no clue. After one year of experience advising students, I decided I wanted to be an academic or career advisor and was excited about grad school (til the work began). I still love working with students but after quitting to live in Oz last year, it’s not what I want to do for 40 hours a week for the rest of my life. I’m not sure if there is ANYTHING I want to do full time. So for now, I’m learning what I don’t want to do and hoping I’ll eventually figure out what I DO want to do again.

    Glad this semester is off to a better start, even if they’re faking it 😉 Take care of yourself and have pancakes for dinner some time this week and pretend I’m there with you hanging out on the couch, watching some horrible reality TV.
    Heather recently posted..Making a list, checking it twice

    • On September 26, 2011 at 5:06 am Sally said:

      Omigosh. Your grandmother is my new hero. On the Reese’s cup line? That sounds like working in my version of HEAVEN! Although maybe even Reese’s cups might lose their appeal after you have to work with all the time… or not. Probably not, right?
      P.S. Please don’t call reality TV “horrible”. It hurts the reality TV’s feelings. Besides, I only watch the “educational” reality TV shows like Master Chef (teaches me important lessons like what the heck kale is) & Project Runway (to help me with my budding career as a goat dress designer). 🙂

      • On September 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm Heather said:

        Masterchef and PR have artistic merit 🙂 But Bachelor Pad? That’s nothing but a guilty pleasure O:-) Chica, I used to call myself the reality TV queen, so no judgement here!

        She worked on the manufacturing line, so nothing glamorous, but she loved working there. We always had the best Easter baskets growing up and gave out full size candy bars at Halloween 🙂 A few boys in middle school said they’d marry me so they could get some candy from my family. We see how that’s turned out.
        Heather recently posted..Making a list, checking it twice

  12. On September 26, 2011 at 12:37 am The Travel Chica said:

    I hope you will one day film your interpretive jazz routine and share it with all of us.
    The Travel Chica recently posted..Finding the Best Without Leaving Home

  13. On September 26, 2011 at 4:54 am Holly said:

    I was a student teacher in college, and your description of how frustrating and unsatisfying it can be is spot on. I taught rudimentary essay writing to freshman using ancient Greek texts. It was a weed out course. It sucked.

    I, by the way, decided to be a writer because it couldn’t be any more frustrating than being a teacher. I admire your resolve to keep at it.
    Holly recently posted..So Here’s What You Missed On Cottage Copy…

  14. On September 26, 2011 at 5:04 am Mira said:

    if the goat thing doesn’t work out how about aiming a little lower and smaller like this: http://cuddlycavies.homestead.com/clothes.html

    a market, at least, has alrteady been established.
    Mira recently posted..Why I Love China #3 aka My Future House

    • On September 26, 2011 at 5:09 am Sally said:

      Omigosh! You won’t believe this, but I even have experience in guinea pig fashion design! I used to have guinea pigs as a kid & two of my guinea pigs won the best-dressed award at this local pet store’s guinea pig competition. One went dressed as a Spanish dancer (of course). And I believe the other was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood.

  15. On September 26, 2011 at 11:06 am NLM said:

    Happy Monday morning, and thanks for another smile. Last week I had the nerve to post some of my “art,” and noted that, if you keep you.

    I’m pretty sure you are a dilettante, too!

    http://www.50plusandontherun.com/2011/09/what-heck-is-dilettante-anyway.html
    NLM recently posted..I’m NOT Going to Swim with the Sharks

    • On September 26, 2011 at 11:40 am Sally said:

      Thanks for the link. I like the sound of “dilettante” (even though I’m not exactly sure how that’s pronounced). I believe that’s what I’ll start calling myself!
      P.S. Nice artwork, by the way! I used to draw a lot as a kid but haven’t done it in years. Maybe I should get back into it…. being a dilettante and all. 🙂

  16. On September 26, 2011 at 11:32 am Belinda said:

    I just have to say that I’m impressed that you:
    1. Knew the lyrics to Papa Don’t Preach at that age, and
    2. Understood what they meant!
    I had no idea, and to be honest, it was only in recent years that I re-listened to it and went “Ohhhhh! That’s what she’s singing about!!”

    • On September 26, 2011 at 11:37 am Sally said:

      I’m actually pretty impressed to. I guess even though I didn’t know how to talk to boys, I did know a thing or two about reproduction (that’s what happens when you grow up on a farm… and hence the reason why I was a whiz at pollination). I don’t know if I understand the whole context of the situation (I’m sure, being a good Catholic school student, I assumed Madonna would get married to keep herself respectable), but I guess I understood the whole “having a baby” thing.

  17. On September 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm Adam said:

    I can totally relate to the statement about the Oreos.
    Adam recently posted..Social Media Week in Berlin

    • On September 26, 2011 at 1:46 pm Sally said:

      They are totally appropriate meal substitutes, am I right or am I right? Plus, in China they have fruit cream flavored ones so it’s like I’m eating fruit. Almost.

  18. On September 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    I think it’s sooo important to love what you do! I think it’s great you’ve found passion in teaching.

    • On September 26, 2011 at 1:49 pm Sally said:

      To be honest, I used to love it a lot more when I first started out. Now, I’m happy to do it, but I don’t feel the same passion that I used to. I think I’m just one of those people who gets restless & bored pretty easily and needs to move on and try new things. I have been considering going into something that would use my degree & background in education but maybe allow me to do something a bit different — like teacher training or educational administration. But, for now, my job suits the goals I’m trying to accomplish for myself… and that makes me happy. Now just to actually start accomplishing my goals (and stop watching reality TV!).

  19. On September 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm Phil said:

    Sally,
    I really want to see a video of this interpretative dance with the cabbage patch doll finale. I may have to blackmail you by threatening another unicorn or something. I also think that 5-10 years down the road, goat dress designer will be a very lucrative career. Side note: could you make a camel dress? Rumor has it my friend Clyde the Camel has a new girl and it’s pretty serious. It’s funny, I was thinking the other day how much I was missing teaching. I think I may end up back in the classroom at some point, but similar to you, I don’t think it’s my long-term situation. Glad to hear the semester is getting better as it goes along 🙂
    Phil recently posted..Sound Memories

    • On September 29, 2011 at 4:56 am Sally said:

      Oooo, a camel dress might be hard. I’m not particularly good at sewing — most of my designs are held together with hot glue. I think a camel would need something a bit more sturdy.
      P.S. Luckily, my parents didn’t own a video camera when I was growing up. I’m pretty sure the world would never be ready for that video.

  20. On September 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm Emily in Chile said:

    This was hilarious! I wanted to be both a vet and an Olympic gold medalist in horse back riding, so you could have totally come to work for me. And don’t despair – there’s a company called United Bamboo that does an annual cat fashion calendar, so goats just might be next.

    As far as the freezing classroom goes, I’ve been there. No central heating in many places in Chile means I wear my parka inside and yes, sleep with a hot water bottle.
    Emily in Chile recently posted..Celebrating Chile at Parque Intercomunal

    • On September 29, 2011 at 4:54 am Sally said:

      I inherited a hot water bottle from one of my colleagues who left last semester, so I’m actually kind of excited that I’ll have that with me this winter. Wow. I never thought I’d get excited about a hot water bottle.

  21. On September 27, 2011 at 5:43 am Valerie Hamer said:

    Another fab read. I wanted to be called Melissa and live in a little house on a prairie with Michael Landon. Funny you mention that show here. I fell into teaching and feel pretty much as you do. 🙂

    • On September 29, 2011 at 4:52 am Sally said:

      I loved the Little House books & TV show when I was a kid, but I was pretty sure I didn’t have the gumption to live on a prairie. I wasn’t particularly crazy about living on a farm, and a prairies sounded like a lot more work than a farm. Instead, it was my life-long dream to live in the suburbs. I probably should have specified which country’s suburbs I wanted to end up in, though, as I’m finally living in the suburbs now but I can’t the Chinese suburbs are much like the magical American suburbs of my childhood dreams.

  22. On September 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm Margaret said:

    OOps! Emily beat me to it! So can at least second her coats in the classroom and hot water bottles for warmth. Oh, and fingerless gloves. do your students wear them too?
    I had great dreams of being a photographer for National Geographic when I grew up. Still working on it… (the growing up part)…
    Margaret recently posted..A Walk in the Woods (and a WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Path

    • On September 29, 2011 at 4:49 am Sally said:

      Wow, somehow I imagined Chile to be more balmy. Mostly because I have a bad sense of geography. Luckily it was never my childhood dream to be a cartographer.

  23. On September 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm Megan said:

    Oh hi! Did you know I’m still alive? It’s true! And I wanted to be a paleontologist and/or POTUS and/or a football player when I was young. I hated football then and I hate it now, so I have no idea why that made sense to me.

    Also…teaching. Yeah, I’m still kind of recovering from my experiences. I *love* working in education and I *do* really love teaching, just…maybe not now? Maybe later? It’s a super hard job and it’s so disheartening to teach people who aren’t into it. Ugh.

    • On September 29, 2011 at 4:48 am Sally said:

      Hmmm…. Megan… that name sounds familiar. Didn’t you have a blog where you would write about beating people up in Thailand…. something about muay thai boxing, right? Okay, so you totally made me Google search POTUS. It’s obvious I never had such high hopes, or I probably would have already known what that meant.
      So, if not teaching, what IS next for you? (This is my not so subtle attempt to make you update your blog already. 🙂 )

  24. On September 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm Deedee said:

    I’m 40 and I still haven’t quite figured out this grown-up thing.

  25. On September 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm Ceri said:

    I loved this post. 🙂 When I was about 7-8, there was a comic for little girls called Twinkle and one of the strips was called ‘Nurse Nancy’ about a nurse for injured teddies, dolls and toys. *That*’s what I wanted to be when I grew up!

    I’m actually getting really into my teacher studying now that I’m five weeks away from starting my CELTA course. The more I read about it and study it, the more I’m convinced that this is the right path for me. 🙂 After years of stumbling around, having no idea, I think I’ve finally found something.

    “And, seriously, if you never dressed a goat in a dress when you were a kid, then you obviously did the whole childhood thing wrong.”

    I used to cover my dog in all the tea towels and towels from the washing basket when I was about 3-4 like she was a clothes horse. Does that count?
    Ceri recently posted..My Kind-Of, Sort-Of, Maybe Itinerary

  26. On September 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm ehalvey said:

    This cracked me up/really hit home. My illustrious career aspirations as a child ranged from peanut vendor to fashion designer to dolphin trainer to FBI agent. It never helped that I liked both artsy things and science-y things. Same for my college majors: forensic chemistry to psychology to international studies to art history. So when I lost my job over the summer, I was given a career coach as part of my severance, so I took a few tests to see what my motivators and personality indicated. Apparently they don’t synch that much, and fine artist was about the only full match. Or something related to food. So I still don’t know what I want to be, but at least I’m expanding my list of what I *don’t* want to be 🙂
    ehalvey recently posted..The Incredibly Cute Cats of Istanbul

  27. On October 2, 2011 at 10:04 am Sasha said:

    Trust mother’s to squash our dreams! Not all dancing requires grace, maybe you could have been a hip hop dancer’s, there’s nothing graceful about that. My Mum ruined my dreams of becoming the next Celine Dion, apparently I can’t sing which I still refuse to believe! Maybe I could make it as a pop singer in China…

    I also went through a short stint of wanting to be a vet assistant when I was 15 but then I did work experience at a Vet and lets just say the whole washing out a dogs bowels quickly halted that dream!

    I’ve still no clue what I want to be when I grow up, though I’m not really concerned, I figure I’ve still got another 70 odd years to grow up!

    • On October 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm Sally said:

      Oh god, I don’t even know what washing out a dog’s bowels entails, but I can guess and, man, it’s such a good thing I gave up my dreams of veterinary medicine pretty quickly.

  28. On October 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm choi kum fook said:

    Miss Sally, as I think, the most suitable for your career is to be a teacher. Later on, become a writer or author. So that I can enjoy reading your Blogs and books in future! Thanks for your awesome blogs! You are not so fit to be a veterinarian because so scare of SNAKES !? Ha! Ha! Do you know, t he least working day in a year is teacher. Instead a year, he or she only works six months.Am I right? Please don’t give up!

    • On October 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm Sally said:

      Oh, it’s true, Mr. Choi. I would be a horrible veterinarian especially if anyone showed up with a pet snake. Thanks for your encouragement, as always.

  29. On April 12, 2012 at 11:29 am Steve G said:

    Great Post! Teaching is such a funny thing as its only when you feel that people want to learn and be in the class that you get such a buzz from this. Disinterested and bored looking kids can be so demoralising to a teacher
    Steve G recently posted..Common Interview Questions

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