Roads Not Taken: A Chronological List of Rejected Career Options

“Teacher” and “nurse” were how most girls my age answered the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” back when we were growing up. I never said either. “Accountant” was where I ended up. It was never on the list at all. “Wife” and “mother” were nearly always assumed to be on the list, but for me–already a burgeoning 1970s second-wave feminist in the fourth grade–they were never goals in themselves.
blog graphic list rejected career choices
  • Artist

I could draw things people could identify and recognize. Is that an “artist” in the second grade?

  • Writer/illustrator

I was a kid who read a lot, and it wasn’t hard to picture my name under “written and illustrated by” on a book cover. It was much harder to imagine what I’d write and illustrate.

  • Fashion artist/designer

I wish I knew what became of all those wedding-dress sketches I made for people during sixth grade…

  • Commercial artist/illustrator

My (second) husband actually used to do this for a living. (He got the art/illustration degree I only ever thought about.) Thanks to technology, there’s a lot less need for anyone to do it these days.

  • Radio programmer

This idea grew from the combined influences of a Communications & Media unit in freshman English and WKRP in Cincinnati.

  • Newspaper journalist/columnist

I was most interested in writing about the entertainment industry. In a way–but not a “career” way–I do that here, now.

  • Lawyer

I wanted to be the first woman on the Supreme Court. That dream was dashed in mere months by Ronald Reagan’s appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor, but I’m actually glad that milestone wasn’t kept waiting.

  • Biologist

I was already in college when I considered this, and I don’t even remember why.

  • Accountant

This was the last stop on my college-major-options train, because accountants can always find jobs. They’re just not usually interesting jobs.

This was previously published in The List App. If you’re there, follow me at @florindapv

Tell me about what you wanted to be growing up–and if that’s what you ended up being!

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