This I Believe

Meghan - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on January 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that we should work toward achieving multiple skills so that we can have the flexibility to choose the work we do in life. For example, you could start out as a hair dresser but work toward a degree that would allow you to do other things. Nowadays, people usually have five or six different occupations by the time they retire. If that’s the case, why do people still ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question that is looking for a singular answer—not multiple answers.

I was not taught to provide myself with different options in case I got bored with my first career choice or wanted another job to supplement my income. I wonder why high school or college counselors didn’t spend more time educating us about choosing a degree or degrees that would provide us with as many career choices as possible. I graduated with degrees in English and Rhetoric and a minor in library sciences, and I never had a teacher or counselor mention to me that it might be wise to double major in English and Education instead. At the same price, I could have graduated college with the viable skills to enter two professions—one in publishing and one in education.

Just as it is important for countries to be well-diversified in the types of industries and services that sustain them, it should be important for people to be diversified as well. For example, the Irish Potato Famine wouldn’t have been nearly as devastating in the mid–1800s if a significant portion of Ireland’s income didn’t come from only the potato crop. Had Ireland and its people been more diversified at the time, they wouldn’t have suffered as much. In the same light, we should diversify our skills to provide ourselves with multiple sources of income and multiple life choices.

I figure that I’m going to have to work 40 to 60 hours a week, so I might as well enjoy what I do or have the peace of mind to know that I could do something else if worse came to worse. You never know what life is going to throw at you and you don’t know if your interests will change or hold. I believe you should give yourself as much flexibility as possible to help recreate yourself and mold to any potential changes.