Dream jobs – #Blogtober14 Day 2

dream job
#Blogtober14 Day 2 prompt: Dream job when you were little / what is it now?Who has never thought about their dream job? Go ahead, raise your hands…I can't even talk aboutNow put them down, I don’t believe you. Thinking of and planning for our dream jobs is something that we start doing as soon as we’re old enough to understand the sentence “When I grow up, I want to be…” and even if we immediately second-guess ourselves (another sad aspect of some childhoods) there is a moment when we know that we will be the first President who works at McDonald’s on their day off.Hey, speaking of my childhood dream jobs…

How many dream jobs can one little girl get?

Ohhh, I was ambitious. I also certainly failed to understand the idea of opportunity costs, which would come much later in a college economics class (or when I cut that trip to San Francisco short to make it to show choir…) In my limitless and timeless imagination, I wanted to be:

A ballerina…

ballerina dream job .

A lawyer…

lawyer dream job
I was always partial to Claire Kincaid…

And a doctor…

dream jobsq
…but only if I can become a fairytale warrior badass when I grow up.

All while running the country and, one or two days a week, the McDonald’s drive-thru.

dream jobs
Every Value Meal comes with a lawsuit or surgery!

Eventually, I understood that my career ambitions may have been slightly skewed. After all, the sheer amount of time in school it would take to become a lawyer and a doctor would pretty much mean I’d have no time to really practice either discipline. Oh, and forget dancing – not only did I miss that boat big time to start with, but there’s no way the prima ballerina can plie across the stage at 37 after many nights spent hunched over books or making residency rounds.

I also got my fast-food fix out of my system pretty quickly, even if it was at Burger King instead of McDonald’s.

Now, President is still an option…#Trenton2024

Bigger, bolder dream jobs

There’s one other time in your life, besides early childhood, when choosing your career adventure is the equivalent of throwing a ton of words up on a whiteboard and picking your favorite:


While my career goals were slightly more reasonable (and major-specific) in my early 20s, I still had a hard time narrowing them down. I wanted to be an actress, or a writer, and at one point I went between teaching and the Foreign Service. I even got as far as taking the Foreign Service Exam and sort of talking to one teacher about an education major.

By this time I started to get understandably upset at my inability to make a decision. I wished to become one of those people who came out of the womb knowing what they wanted to do and lived their entire lives in preparation for that moment, like the sorority sister who stayed steady in a pre-law program and refused to drink underage in case it came out in her bar review. (Spoiler alert: it worked.)

Dream job turns to calling

Today, I still want to be a writer. And hey look, I’m sort of doing exactly that!

My other dream job, though, isn’t really a dream at all – it’s a calling. I’ve talked a lot about the discernment process and how I’ve been processing my call to pastoral ministry, and in yesterday’s post I went into a lot more detail about one of my specific visions for that calling. I’ll admit, I’m feeling shaken up even with this and even knowing that God is pulling me in this direction. There is a lot of turmoil going on in my church and a great divide in Christianity as a whole as far as what constitutes Biblical obedience – even, perhaps, whether doctrinal obedience may be more important to the political body of the Church.

That said, this path actually allows me to take a little bit out of every dream job I’ve had and incorporate them into a mega-dream job:

  • The law and politics side of me gets to engage with the Church body about the issues facing our denomination and its adherents
  • The service-oriented sliver of my soul gets to live in constant service to those in the Church’s care
  • The teacher in me gets to share the Word of God with eager (and not-so-eager) souls to help them find meaning
  • The actress in me gets to perform through sermon and maybe even some song
  • The writer in me gets to write, write, write – sermons, exegeses, devotionals and reflections. And I can even keep my blog!

Sorry guys, still no dancing. This is as athletic as it gets:


Let me know in the comments – what’s your dream job?

Helene in Between

3 Replies to “Dream jobs – #Blogtober14 Day 2”

  1. Greg Laurence says:

    Interesting post.

    When I was in 5th grade, I wanted to be a lobster fisherman. Until I failed the eye exam, I wanted to go to the Naval Academy or do Navy ROTC in college and eventually captain a warship (by the way, had I not failed the eye exam, I would eventually have failed the physical and learned a bunch of things that I ended up not learning until I was 37 – boy would that have changed things). I wish I could have been a Formula 1 driver.

    I spent most of my 20s and part of my 30s trying to figure out what I wanted to “be”. When my 20s started, I was pretty sure I knew – a history professor. I worked hard in college, got into graduate school, and started down that path. I also made the mistake of graduating from college too early, going to graduate school too young, and getting engaged because it seemed like the thing that had to be done. Needless to say, neither that stint in graduate school nor that engagement ended well.

    What did end up working out was following a dream. (As you know,) I moved to Japan to teach English. Teaching English was hardly the part I had dreamed about, but I had wanted to go to Japan since at least Middle School. I had read James Clavell’s “Shogun” when I was like 10 (I remember taking it to school in 100 page pieces to avoid getting made fun of for reading a 1,000 page book in 5th grade) and been enthralled with the mini-series (Richard Chamberlain still reigns as king of the mini-series). I had applied to go to Japan as an AFS student in high school (they sent me to Turkey instead). In October 2004, I saw an ad in the paper for jobs in Japan and jumped at it. I was on a plane, job and visa in hand, on January 6, 1995. I was 23. I figured I’d teach English for a couple of years and then have the next step figured out.

    My last contract as an English teacher ended on March 31, 2001. I was 29. I had taught in 3 cities in Japan, visited the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, taught at a corporate English Conversation School and a private Jr. and Sr. High School, made friends, lost friends, etc. It had been a good 6 years. But, I knew at that point that teaching English as a career was not what I wanted. I easily could have kept going. The money was OK. I taught 2 or 3 classes a day at the high school. I got to go to the National High School Baseball Tournament regularly. I had 6 weeks of summer vacation. But, I had never figured out what I wanted to “be”. So, I got an MBA.

    Why? Because I realized there was no escape from business. Teaching corporate English we had been half salesmen, half teachers (prostitution of the mind as I called it at the time). Teaching at a private school, we had needed marketing materials, we had budget meetings, etc. I didn’t know anything about any of that stuff. I figured learning about it couldn’t hurt. I had one goal in mind for after graduation: Move back to Japan and do anything but teach.

    Which worked. I finished my 2 masters degrees and got a job doing business development for a consulting firm. We did good work, consulting on World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and other IFI projects in the less developed world. I won us a lot of proposals. I earned gold status on American on just one of my business trips (flying from Tokyo to Brasilia and back). I finally got to live in Tokyo. I was also bored out of my mind after about 6 months of it. I took the Foreign Service Exam, passed, and got stomped on in the oral assessment (they refuse to call it an interview). I still didn’t know what I wanted to “be”.

    When in graduate school, three faculty members had asked me if I had ever considered a PhD in Management (my answer: Of course not…who has? Does such a thing even exist?) and those conversations came back to me as I was sitting at my desk reformatting project proposals. Here was a way to come full circle in a sense. History would be replaced by management, but the “professor” part of what I had wanted to be when in my early 20s would finally get satisfied. The content seemed interesting enough. I could finally try to answer the question of why some of the people I had worked with over the years seemed to like their jobs so much. I could reclaim the long summer vacation!

    So, in August of 2006 I went back to school again. I was about to turn 35. I got out in 2010 and finally started, what I think is, the right job for me (at least for the most part). I am not bored. I have embraced a motto I heard a seasoned management professor say once, “Write a paper, get a trip. Usually to nice places”. Do I have many choices about where I physically want to live? No, but this is the opportunity cost of being a professor – getting a PhD closes more doors than it opens and so you go where the job is.

    So, am I doing my dream job? Not all of it, but much of it. Are there still things to strive for in terms of getting closer to that dream job? Absolutely and I suppose this is part of what motivates me.

    Why did I write this? When I was in my 20s I was in a hurry. In a hurry to get “there” (wherever “there” was). I saw friends graduate from law and medical school, get married, have kids, buy houses, and I “wanted” that. At least I thought I did. Choosing your own path requires some real effort in resisting the plan that society has. You’re supposed to have home equity by the time you’re 30! You’re supposed to know what you want to be. I thought to myself that you might have a reader or two who are trying to find their way and that maybe reading about someone who struggled to get “there”, but who had some pretty amazing experiences along the way would be helpful.

    I’ll end with a couple of quotes that I have latched on to. One is from the book, “A Wild Sheep Chase” by Haruki Murakami. “The faster the speed, the more headway into boredom”. To me, an interesting take on slow down and smell the roses. The other I just came across yesterday while watching the Wong Kar Wai movie, “The Grandmaster”. “To say there are no regrets in life is just to fool yourself. How boring it would be without regrets.” I’ve got my share, but I hold on to them as I go forward.

    1. shannonvtrenton says:

      Thank you so much for sharing, Greg! Your story is an inspiration to me and I hope it will be to others as well. Also, wish me luck! I’m delving into my first Murakami book (1Q84)…nearly a year after getting it for Christmas.

      1. Greg Laurence says:

        1Q84, eh? I’ll be curious to hear what you think. The book that got me hooked on him was “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle”, which you should definitely read once you’re through 1Q84.

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