So, I thought I'd start out my first blog post by reminiscing a bit on careers - the ones we have now and the ones we wish we had. Growing up, I think I wanted to be everything from a teacher to an airline hostess (when I was really young) to a psychiatrist or farmer when I was older (don't ask about the farmer part - I don't know where that came from). When I really wanted to dream - I fantasized about being a rock star - like Jem (of Jem and the Holograms); definitely feisty with a twist of kick-ass girl power thrown in.
In high school, I found Harlequin romances and thought - "This is it - I will write/work for Harlequin!" I had totally found my calling - losing myself in a juicy romance was far better than whatever I had to force down my throat for English class (except Jane Eyre. And Wuthering Heights. And all the Jane Austins. Let's just call them novels of historical importance with that all-important romantic element!)
But, what do you think happened? Am I at this very minute crafting love-stories for my favorite publisher, or even working there as some type of editor - choosing the covers, copy, marketing and distributing these books I covet so much? No, I'm working on my Ph.D. instead. WTF?! How did that happen?
Well, (and this is where you may find similarities to my story in your own life) I just kinda fell into it. After undergrad (History/English majors, of course), I got an incredible opportunity to teach at the college level. And surprisingly (at least to me), I was good at it (and really loved it, to boot!) I loved connecting with people and helping them; the only thing I didn't like was marking (Argh!) But in order to try and secure a job in this field, I was told that I would need at least a Master's degree. So, I went ahead and applied, and got into the Education program. I loved my studies as well (although it was tough to balance both), and when it came time for graduation I had a decision to make. Try and get a job (in the dwindling full-time post-secondary field) or keep going and do the Ph.D. (which I had already been accepted to). And obviously, you know which route I took.
Now, don't get me wrong, I really love what I'm doing right now (although the pay from teaching assistantships definitely leaves something to be desired) and I am mentally challenged by my work on a daily basis. But I always wonder - what if? What if I had walked up to the Harlequin offices after graduation and begged them to take me on as an intern? What if I had cranked out that first novel, like I said I would do ten years ago and it was accepted? This is my fantasy when things get too stressful at school, or I'm freaking out over research.
I'm currently scheduled to graduate in 2013. That feels like a long time still to go and it's tough sometimes to keep plugging away, especially when my friends are so much further along (money and career-wise) than I am. Sometimes I envy them, their corporate jobs, how their evenings and weekends are their own and they can do fun things downtown (like go to mixers, be part of a bookclub, play team sports, etc) while I usually can't (money and time restrictions). I sometimes wonder if it's worth it. I'm sure this is totally a "the grass is greener on the other side" type scenario, but I can't help think back to my own Harlequin dreams. Not all Ph.D.'s become university professors - how would they feel about having one in publishing? :)