When I was in elementary school, I was dead set on becoming a writer. My ten-year-old brain was convinced that I’d one day publish a bestselling series. That was the end of the road, the ultimate goal, the only career path I saw myself taking— and I wasn’t going to change my mind.
I completely defined myself by that dream. I’d spend my days filling up journals with potential story lines and characters, and when I thought I’d hit on pure brilliance, I’d buckle down and flesh out the ideas brewing in my head. At one point, I think I was about a postage stamp away from sending my newest “manuscript” to HarperCollins. (But, like, thank god I didn’t. It was a story about a dolphin doctor, brilliantly titled Dolphin Doctor Rachel.)
Naturally, I grew out of that phase and realized the life of a best-selling author just probably wasn’t for me. Not that I didn’t love to write anymore, though— things just became so much more complicated once I developed other interests and learned about the “real world.” Suddenly, there were so many other ways I could translate my writing skills and creativity into a career, ways that didn’t involve shutting myself in a room and slaving away at a novel for eight hours a day. I could be a journalist, a screenwriter, an editor, a copywriter and any number of occupations in the media and communications industries. The options were endless and incredibly overwhelming.
And, really, it’s still overwhelming. I’m halfway through college now, right at the point where that nebulous future I thought so much about when I was younger isn’t all that far away anymore. In two short years, my school is going to hand me a fancy diploma and then proceed to politely boot me off campus. Yet, I’m still unsure of what I’ll do with my degree. People always assure me that at my age, I still have “plenty of time” to figure out what I want to do career-wise, but somehow that doesn’t seem right to me. I mean, my first two years of college were over in about 16 seconds- giving me reason to believe that my last two will fly by just as quickly. That’s not a whole lot of time to draw up a master plan for my future, am I right?
It’s ironic that when I was a kid, I had a clearer vision for my life’s trajectory than I do now. However, there’s one function of my personality that has stayed constant through the years: my ambition. I have always aspired to something greater, something beyond myself— and I will always be a go-getter who refuses to be told I can’t do what I want to do. I may not know exactly where post-graduation life will take me, but I do know that I want to surmount barriers, disrupt the status quo, and become a leader. I do know that I want to break into male-dominated fields, make a name for myself, and maybe even start a venture of my own someday. Whatever industry I end up in, be it advertising, marketing, publishing, music, film, or none of the above, I won’t let anything stand in the way of my overarching ambitions.
This year, as I begin to distill my interests into potential career paths (can I get paid to listen to the Beach Boys all day?), I know I haven’t even come close to seeing the worst of the career-search process yet. I’m still in the “internships-are-acceptable” stage of life, so I’ve gotten only a mere taste of the maelstrom that is job applications, resumé building, interviews, recommendation letters and networking. The thought that I’ll soon be tackling all of this in pursuit of paid work is extremely daunting.
Regardless, I was raised to forge ahead with confidence and an open mind no matter the circumstances, and that’s exactly what I plan to do. My dreams may have changed, my passions may have evolved, but in the end, I’m still the same wildly ambitious girl I was when I was ten years old.
Jenna Buckle is a student at Tufts University who spends the majority of her days/nights holed up in a basement editing her school newspaper. (But really.) She’s a pop culture junkie and is currently working towards her life goal of becoming an encyclopedia of all music, ever. She has interned and written for HelloGiggles. She once went a full day without realizing her arm was broken. You can read her blog and follow her on Twitter @jennbucks.