Have you ever asked a child what they want to be when they 'grow up'?
During my time as a teacher many students wanted to be teachers, firefighters, soldiers, doctors, veterinarians, famous singers and sportspeople—often a reflection of their family values and experiences.
My childhood dreams were no different. At times I wanted to be a midwife, author, mother, run children's clubs, kinder teacher, primary teacher, songwriter, Bible translator, missionary... and the list goes on.
I opted to study a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education (Primary) in order to incorporate as many interests as possible, with an assured 'trade' at the end. I then trotted off to get a classroom teaching position while my studies were still fresh in my mind.
Although varied and suited to many of my skills, teaching was not quite right for me. I felt overwhelmed, stressed and exhausted, and soon burnt out. This challenged me to reconsider my process for choosing a particular career path.
Consider the different approaches we—both young and old—use as we search for 'the one': our vocation in life.
Approach #1: Go for security
Wanting the best for their children, parents often encourage their offspring towards careers that are stable, pay well and generally have opportunities for employment. These types of vocations might include: teaching, medicine, law, engineering and so on.
In my limited experience of teaching, it is not just a day job. Teaching roles often involve long hours and a high level of emotional involvement, even at a cost to personal health and family life—this is especially true when someone is not 100% passionate and or at ease in their role.
Approach #2: Career bucket list
For the multitalented youngster, a 'bucket list' of jobs and careers to try out can seem like an attractive option. Why not have a go at a range of things?
While this might work well for the life-long backpacker—the free spirit in the wind—it could mean more study than work and ultimately neglecting to master anything.
Different interests can always be explored as hobbies. In fact, a string of hobbies can be a lot of fun and could lead to a clearer picture of one's strengths and calling in life.
Approach #3: Fix the world
So then, if there has to be a limit to the number of times a person can retrain and test different career paths, how can a person settle on just one and stick to it?
I considered the idea of 'holy unrest'—what most frustrates me about the world, and how could I contribute to making a difference in this area?
This train of thought led me to contemplate studying to be a landscape architect, in order to help reverse the problem of environmental destruction. What could be more useful to the world in its current state than to design and revitalise ecosystems?
I promptly enrolled in a course. It only took one sentence for my perceptive husband to save me from this deviation, 'From what I've observed, you don't actually like gardening...' Hmm...Very true! Design courses and careers often involved working long hours under the pressure of deadlines. Not exactly the way to recover from teacher burnout!
Approach #4: Take any job that's available
In the end I realised no job was perfect and I just had to find something to earn money to keep up the lifestyle we had become accustomed to: eating out, paying for expensive health supplements, saving for a house, going on trips and so on.
I started to stress out again, searching for jobs on my iPhone at midnight, under the pillow. Not wanting to teach, my main options were cleaning, waitressing or nanny work—not exactly the best use of my skills.
As the Teacher remarked in Ecclesiastes chapter 1, verse 14, 'I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.'
Putting it all into perspective
And like the quiet whisper in the storm, the answer came to me. What did I really enjoy doing? What came naturally to me? When I looked over the course of my life the activities I gravitated towards have always been thinking, researching, reading, writing and language-learning.
Surely the fingerprints of my Maker could be evidenced consistently over time, lovingly bringing out the themes of my life-melody? Perhaps, after all, the work that really brings blessing to others is the work done excellently and with joy, no matter which field of endeavour it may involve? After all, it is impossible for one person to do all and be all!
And so here I am, a burnt-out ex-teacher, leaning back into my Father's arms of love, enjoying a time of rest with a simpler lifestyle, and recreating and rediscovering my identity as a 'word' person. After all, what was it that the Almighty used to bring all of life into existence?
Rosanne Menacho has a keen interest in sustainable and healthy living, and enjoys learning new languages. She is about to begin studying a Bachelor of Professional Writing and Publishing through Open Universities Australia and a Masters of Interpreting and Translation at Monash University. Rosanne lives with her husband and Staffordshire terrier in the outer south-east of Melbourne, Australia.
Rosanne Menacho's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosanne-menacho.html