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What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Just how grown up do they mean?

Ah, that ever elusive question. Growing up wasn't really an option for me; once I hit eighth grade any hopes I had of reaching higher than 5'4" were sadly dashed. So I decided to focus my energies on what I wanted to be when I grew older. I thought that a career in law sounded fascinating. Spend lots of time in a library surrounded by the musty smell of old books, listening to and becoming a great negotiator and orator, watching beads of sweat rolling down defendant's foreheads, the key moment when a case breaks loose and all hearts in the courtroom are overcome with the obvious verdict. Not to mention the nice houses, cars, and charmed lives that I was sure accompanied this esteemed calling.

I spent the next several years immersed in studies that would eventually bring me closer to this goal. I attended a National Student Leadership Convention that was an 11 day course in Law and Advocacy. High schoolers teamed up with law students in Washington D.C. and prepared murder cases that were "tried" in the Supreme Courthouse, in front of a panel of judges. It was a wonderful experience that solidified my interest in my chosen field. I continued on.

While life interfered with my plans slightly, after I gave birth to my son during my college years, I was determined to progress. I received a paralegal degree to get my foot in the door. After several years supporting myself and my son by working in various restaurants and customer service jobs, I landed a coveted position in a law firm. It was here that I had my monumental awakening.

This glamorous career was for the birds.

Hours of pushing paper in triplicate, freezing half to death in a year-round air conditioned office, monitoring every minute worked to be billed to some client or another, and updating the staus of 600 case files assigned to 30 lawyers was not the high powered position I dreamed it would be, especially considering I was making more money in the restaurant business. Attorneys rarely, if ever, saw the inside of a courtroom. Most cases were decided over a conference call, signaling a mad dash for the printer and fax machine. Research is done online, and even while learning how to read the extensive tomes, we were told in class that we would hardly deign to use them. 

I ended up accepting a position making 30% more money in another service establishment about a year later. Not too much later, recession hit the area big time, laying off dozens of attorneys and paralegals, furthering my decision to abstain from taking on the mortgage sized burden of debt I saved myself by not following up on my law school admissions studies.

Unfortunately, in saving myself that debt, I have created a new one.

I once again have to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Why is this so much harder now? I loved the positive environment of direct sales, except when my paycheck relied on other people's credit scores. I love the hustle and bustle of the restaurant business, but the hours are taking a toll on my relationship with my family. I have an extensive customer service background in retail environments and I am good at it, however, after a decade of having no weekends to myself and no nights to help my kids with homework, I am ready for a "real" job.

Has anyone else been in this postition? How did you look for a new career path? Were you successful the first, second, third attempt? Did you go back to school for it? How did you manage to balance a family and new career, if you had to?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mary Churchill September 04, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I think you should consider teaching...

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