Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

woman alone by lake

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

When you’re a kid you get asked that all the time, don’t you?

For the record, currently Flea wants to be a marine biologist or an actor. When I was her age, I wanted to be a journalist. I loved to read, and I loved to write, and I wanted to tell stories – and a job that combined those things seemed like the best thing I could imagine.

By the time I was in my teens, I dreamed of working for the Forestry Commission. I was (am) pretty passionate about the environment and having a job that let me work outdoors, creating a better environment, seemed like a good option. My school careers advisor agreed – just not necessarily for the same reasons.

“I think you’ll do well in a job where you can work independently,” she told me.

My family, meanwhile,  tried to guide me towards academia and research. “Research would be perfect. You won’t have to work with other people,” said my Mum.

The advice was pretty clear – whatever you do, don’t work with people.

And it was very sensible advice. Because, honestly? I am SO not a people person.

I don’t like large groups. I have no innate sense of diplomacy. If someone’s being idiotic, I find it ridiculously hard not to tell them so. I’m competitive. Pathologically so. I can’t stand to walk away from an argument if I think someone is wrong. I dwell unduly on criticism.

And yet, here I am, voluntarily doing a job that involves working with dozens of different people, day in, day out. People who have different points of view and different values and very different views on how things should be done. It’s a job where people do feel free to criticise you – sometimes demonstrating their own lack of people skills in the process. Some days, my job takes quite a lot of diplomacy, when I’d really rather just tell some obnoxious twonk on Twitter to go suck it.

Maybe that sounds like a complaint, but it really isn’t. My job is ridiculously brilliant, like, 75% of the time. There are very few people who can honestly say that, I think. I’m just amazed that I’ve taken on – and love – a career that seems so completely at odds with my natural strengths, and has required me to develop so many skills I wasn’t born with. It’s interesting to do that, of course, but it’s also very challenging, sometimes.

Social media marketing was never a planned career – not least because it didn’t exist when I was at university. But life happened. I got divorced, I moved, I met a local company, I started looking at blogs as part of a gig doing their PR, I started my own blog, then I had an idea, and I went with it, and it grew and it grew from there. And here I am. It’s brilliantly random and ridiculously fortunate.

Still, I find myself wondering, what would my life be like if I’d followed the advice of those teachers, and my parents? What would I be doing? How would I be different? Would I be happier, or would I be sad because I wouldn’t have a job that allows me to satisfy my love of creating new things, and going to new places?

I like to think I ended up just where I was meant to be. But who knows? Unless I fall into the true-life version of Sliding Doors, I’ll never know what happened to that other Sally who listened to good advice.

How about you – are you doing the job you always wanted to do? Is it what you expected? Or did life throw you a curveball, too?


Pic Credit: Shutterstock 


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 24th April 2015 / 10:24 am

    I was supposed to be an executive wife with 6 children (at least), a SAHM making dinner parties, supervising the staff, and generally being supermum. That’s honestly what I wanted (after I grew out of wanting to be an actress). In the end I’m the single mum of one, teaching full time, making toasted cheese sandwiches for supper and supervising my 6yo’s homework. I can’t say I’m disappointed with life. I wanted what I knew (or saw – my mother also worked full time) but I got a whole lot more in challenges and adventure. You shouldn’t trust your childhood self to make the best choices for the rest of your life.
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..Back In The Zone Week 3My Profile

    • Sally
      29th April 2015 / 9:34 am

      Six? Six?? Blimey. I think that’s a very wise point that our childhood selves probably aren’t the best decision makers!

  2. 24th April 2015 / 11:10 am

    Yep, I can totally relate. The life I had planned out as a child has not happened at all – unless the rich, famous Hollywood lifestyle is just around the corner for me … 😉

    Instead my life has taken quite the scenic route but I am more than happy with where it’s ended up. I couldn’t have imagined this at all.
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    • Sally
      29th April 2015 / 9:33 am

      You never know…. fame and fortune could still await. I think it’s great when life is scenic but takes us somewhere cool we couldn’t have even imagined 🙂

  3. 24th April 2015 / 12:06 pm

    As a child I wanted to be a writer, in any way shape or form. I was always writing stories, and even turning supposed ‘what I did in the holidays’ homework into complete works of fiction, that sometimes got me in to trouble!
    Then I was pressured into doing a foundation degree in Travel, because it was in Cornwall and so I didn’t have to go away to do it. At the end of the course I was pregnant, since then I worked in banks, as a cleaner for a very short period in desperation, a cook (I really can not cook) an avon representative…and finally now a blogger.
    I call it work, but I don’t get any real financial gain only 3 months in – BUT I feel I have finally found what I wanted to do, I love everything about it, and I finally feel happy doing what I’m doing. Whether it’s a success or not, I feel like it has given me ME back.
    Stevie x
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    • Sally
      29th April 2015 / 9:33 am

      It’s such a shame when kids are pressured into studying something at uni, it can really change your direction, can’t it? So pleased you found your way back to something you’re passionate about, though.

  4. Mel
    24th April 2015 / 10:36 pm

    I wanted to be a hairdresser, and became a teacher. I had never wondered what life would be like if I had made different career choices. I really love teaching, and I would be an awful hairdresser – seriously, I actually struggle untangling my own hair, and my toddler looks like a mad cat lady most days with her unruly hair! You’ve done such a brilliant job founding Tots100, then Foodies. Glad you didn’t go into research or the Forestry Commission.

    • Sally
      29th April 2015 / 9:32 am

      Ah, thanks for that!

  5. 25th April 2015 / 10:29 am

    Never mind all that – is that your image??? It’s absolutely stunning! So perhaps you should have been a photographer.

    I was supposed to be an interpreter or a librarian, but I ended up in corporate management. Which I hated. Trouble is, I loved the money. Now I love what I do, but don’t like the money. Go figure.

    For what it’s worth, I do believe that at least 3 careers in a lifetime are possible (and likely), so I don’t think I’m done yet. And nor, quite possibly, are you. So that marine biology thing could still be waiting…
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    • Sally
      29th April 2015 / 9:32 am

      You would so not be a librarian??? Three careers for sure, wonder what my third will be?

  6. 26th April 2015 / 4:11 pm

    I wanted to be a vet, a lawyer or a wildlife photographer. In the end I got kicked out of home 3 months into my A-Levels and had to drop out to afford to live, working in Woolworths. I changed jobs when I was 18, moving to work in a high street bank and I have been there ever since. It’s not my dream job but it pays the bills and I am good at it – having done every job from cashiering to management. But, I also have my blog now and that is something I am incredibly thankful for – it gives me things my day job doesn’t and I love blogging – it doesn’t just pay the bills, it’s a hobby and so much more x
    Donna recently posted..Leap of Faith Children’s ClothingMy Profile

    • Sally
      29th April 2015 / 9:32 am

      There’s a lot to be said for paying the bills and enjoying the job, and for lots of people personal satisfaction comes from hobbies, which I think is absolutely valid.

  7. 26th April 2015 / 6:26 pm

    I think you’re selling yourself short – you are a brilliant people person, you have to be to have made Tots such a success! And I think you like it really 😉

    I studied German but didn’t end up using it past my second job, though I would have liked to. Through quite a few more jobs I eventually ended up as a Buyer of toys and stationery – dream job you might say! I did love it, but it’s not a part-time kind of job so I did choose family over career (but I was 32 so I’d had a fair ‘innings’ :D). After our youngest girl was diagnosed with autism, I began training other parents in the world of disability – but I’m SO not a natural speaker, never will be! Fell into it though as I wanted to help others rather than made a conscious choice to do it… and who knows where it may lead!.
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    • Sally
      29th April 2015 / 9:31 am

      I do love my job, honest! But it’s just so at odds with my natural aptitudes, I think. You’re a great example of how life takes you unexpected places and you fall into the most interesting things, well done!

  8. 26th April 2015 / 7:41 pm

    Haha I constantly get told not to work with people too and to be honest its pretty accurate, although its not that I am socially inept – I actually enjoy meeting and socialising with people. It’s just the daily working with bit that’s a struggle.

    I gave up a job over a year ago that I loved doing but didn’t enjoy the ‘politics’ aspect of and it became harder to ignore that the longerI stayed especially if I wanted to continue to progress. Now I am figuring it all out… I have start up ideas, but so little time now with a baby.

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    • Sally
      29th April 2015 / 9:30 am

      Office politics is my nemesis, I just don’t have the patience or tact for it.

  9. 27th April 2015 / 10:51 am

    You know what – I wanted to teach from being about 7. There was never any deviation from this. When things went a bit wrong as I was apply for university and it didn’t look like I would get the grades I needed I thought my world would fall apart. I’ve been teaching now for 12 years and whilst (thanks to our government and their interfering) it is not the same job I started, I do still love it. Right now supply teaching works well for my family.
    Colette B recently posted..Blog Camp with Tots100 – #BlogCampUKMy Profile

    • Sally
      29th April 2015 / 9:30 am

      I think that’s amazing to have a goal and to be happy when you’re there. Fantastic!

    • Sally
      29th April 2015 / 9:29 am

      It’s a wonderful job, good luck in getting there!

  10. 30th April 2015 / 11:55 pm

    I was told I would be most suitable to be a drill sergeant- apparently I have bossy tendencies.

    I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I didn’t go to Uni in South Carolina, didn’t meet Simon, didn’t move to England. Would I be married and still living in my hometown? Running the group home I was on track to run before I moved here. God, the thought gives me anxiety. I’ve always rolled with things, moving has meant a fresh start for me. I’ve always had to find a job/career when I got there. and just went where it’s taken me. I currently love doing what I do. I’d like to be better at it, who doesn’t, but it’s all good.
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