Aside from pop stars, sports stars, film stars, artists and so on, I wonder how many people could say they are honestly doing the job of which they always dreamt? Indeed, did all the people in the aforementioned categories dream of being what they ended up as? I expect a great many people could say they ‘love’ what they do, but is it what they’d have all selected, given the chance? Achieving a successful career in a chosen field must be becoming more difficult as economic constraints tighten and job seekers must take whatever they can find. Little wonder so many queue for competitions like ‘X Factor’, when there are situations like 1,700 applicants for 8 jobs in ‘Costa’! Costa may well be the most wonderful employer in the world [I wouldn’t know], but I’m guessing it would hardly be the pinnacle of achievement for most to be serving behind the counter in one.
I know I certainly didn’t follow the career path I really wanted, even forty five years ago. What I’d have loved to do at that time was to go to Art School and study graphic design. At my conservative girls’ grammar school this was considered far too alternative and risqué, resulting in careers guidance to the effect that I was ‘not good enough’ and should go into teaching! No one considered that I might not be ‘good enough’ for teaching [and looking back at my lacklustre teaching years this was probably the case].
In the event I did quite enjoy a substantial portion of the teaching years, although this enjoyable time was mostly before governments began meddling seriously with what and how we taught. But I was never so besotted with education that I rushed headlong up the ladder into an elevated position, preferring to footle along as an ‘Indian’.
Now, though, at a time when it is undoubtedly too late for great financial success or even much in the way of acknowledgement, I wish I’d been in a position to support myself while I learned how to write; because those writers who have achieved success began at a younger age. Many came via the journalism route, or through a degree in creative writing, but some managed to get published from writing a debut novel whilst holding down a day job. I don’t know, but I have a hunch that few of these dedicated, talented and [to a certain extent lucky] people can have been teachers. Why? Because teaching, along with a number of similar careers allows for very little time, energy or creativity left over to do anything much else.
It isn’t helping that the likes of Michael Gove are pushing only subjects that lead to productive employment in manufacturing and allowing creative areas such as drama and music to fall by the wayside.
There is a saying that goes, ‘Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach’. It is a harsh adage, but one that, in my case held a grain of truth. But I prefer to put it another way. ‘Those that teach, can’t’. I’m looking forward to a time when the young can follow their instincts and pursue subjects that they love, whether it makes their fortune or not, but I’m not holding my breath…