"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
It's the question we all get asked as soon as we enter elementary school.
Since this question is asked so early on, children often respond with a career that they would like because of their interests, not something that they've actually looked into. They are children, after all, and as a child, anything you say is acceptable.
I remember starting grade school and getting this same question from every adult that crossed my path. I loved to write, but I knew it wasn't what I was going to go to school for since I don't believe that type of creativity should be taught. But I also had another passion: animals. My logic was, I love animals, therefore, someone who is compassionate about animals is a veterinarian. So that's what I would say whenever I was asked.
This question has continued to follow me throughout each school year, and it never stopped, even in high school. The question had been asked so much, that I just decided to go with that same elementary school logic: "I am going to be a veterinarian."
The thing was, I did still have a passion for animals. I did still have an interest in the medical field.
But I never had the enthusiasm for it like my other passions. I spend the rest of high school writing novels and learning languages. Day and night, I was focused on getting my manuscripts published, and when I wasn't doing that, I was learning a new language.
Every week I would look up a new language and see if that one interested me, and either continue learning that one or switch to something new. I already spoke a few languages fluently, but teaching myself how to converse in a new language was something I found a lot of joy in. By Sophomore year, I was trying to find a language unlike any language I've tried before—I was interested in something different. When I came across American Sign Language, I was thrilled. I spent hours looking up videos, songs, and going through new books I would buy just to learn more. ASL ended up sticking with me, unlike Romanian or Korean.
Senior year was also filled with counseling sessions that were focused on getting you into college. Reluctantly, I sent out an application to Madison Area Technical College to get into their Veterinary Technician program and got accepted. When I got the acceptance letter, I was aware of my lack of excitement. Nonetheless, I signed up for my classes like a good noodle, but I just couldn't find anything to look forward to. Thinking about MATC was a chore, and my writing and language-learning was an escape.
Less than a month before I was to start classes, I told my parents what I really wanted to do: I wanted to be an American Sign Language Interpreter. They were a bit shocked, since my whole life I was telling everyone I wanted to become a veterinarian. Some people were worried about my sudden change in career, thinking I was in just a phase because I experienced something new. That isn't their fault of course since I am generally a private person and like to keep my interests to myself.
We wasted no time on finding a school to go to since MATC did not have an interpreting program. Eventually, we found that UW-Milwaukee was the way to go. I spent my first year at UW-Fond du Lac doing gen-eds, then got accepted into UW-Milwaukee. I am now in my second year at UWM and will be entering the Interpreting Program within the year.
Even though some people know what they want to do right away, it could change completely. It might be confusing or frustrating. It could change where you live, where you go to school, and how you live your life.
But that's OK.