I think most people struggle with figuring out how to mold their interests (dare I say their "passions" - hate that word!) in life into a job, much less a career. That saying that goes something like "do what you love and never work a day in your life" in my mind is misleading - as though this is a real option for everyone. I know people who have very specific career interests and high qualifications and have had very difficult times parlaying those interests into a job which pays the bills, or, on the other hand, people with very vague interests and no real desire to work - how do you manage to make a career out of something like that?
The reason I muse about this is that I've always only held a couple of sincere "passions" in life and have struggled with finding a career niche. I went to college and graduated with a degree in Economics - figuring it would be the most marketable of all the liberal arts degrees my college offered. Problem was (is) that a degree in economics alone does not equal a promising career if you have no specific idea of what you want to do with it. Not only that, but I've come to find out while my degree is of value (and certainly my college education as a whole is certainly valuable), it doesn't fit with my real life passions - cooking, the home, family, pregnancy, childbirth, infant care, etc.
I was 7 years old when I decided I wanted to deliver babies growing up, and was firmly entrenched in this idea of what I'd be doing when I grew up. I stuck with this plan of going to medical school to become an OB-GYN until college when I started thinking of my real life ambition - to have my own babies someday. Unfortunately, the reality for women is that we are up against a very real biological clock, with a pretty firm cutoff regarding our reproductive years. Sadly, for those of us like myself who wanted to get married and have babies in my 20s - and be present around the home and not working crazy hours, be on call, etc - a sacrifice must be made. I talked previously about the harm from the idea that women are taught to believe that they can "have it all" and I really think in this instance you can't. You cannot have the flexibility to be home with your babies, a great cook, housecleaner and wife (let alone good family member and friend) while you are going to school until the age of 27 and then working 100 hour work weeks for the next several years. So, I thought about this sacrifice and realized that medical school wouldn't work for me in how I wanted to prioritize my life.
And that left me with little backup plan. Eventually I found myself in the corporate world, managing sales and handling logistics and operations, and just not having my heart in it. And then I got pregnant. And then I gave birth. And like that, my passion for pregnancy and childbirth and infant care has been reawakened. In my teens and early 20's, when childbirth and delivery were still off in the distance, I read every book, every article, and watched every show and documentary on all things conception, fetal development, pregnancy and childbirth related I could possibly find. When my time came, I got to experience it firsthand, and apply the knowledge I literally have spent over a decade collecting. (not without experiences that caught me by surprise however!). Giving birth has been the single most powerful and transformative moment in my life, despite the years of preparation.
Earlier this year, it became evident that I needed to leave my job for a multitude of reasons, and better yet - it became possible. And with that it's now possible for me to begin to pursue something that I really, honestly am passionate about (much as I feel that "passionate" is a dreadfully overused term). We're lucky to live a couple miles away from a leading college for midwifery, which has a school that trains and certifies you in a number of childbirth vocations. I'm incredibly excited to begin my training this spring to become a Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula and Lactation Consultant.
(For background info, a Doula is a trained person who provides support in a variety of ways - physical, emotional, informational, etc - to the expecting couple, before, during and after childbirth. I'm so excited about this!)
More to come on this, but for now, I'm reading my textbooks and brushing up - back to school we go!