Monday, December 18, 2006

Never Too Late

If you could go back in time and pick another career, what would you select? I started out thinking I wanted to be a journalist and ended up in law school. After awhile in law school, I couldn’t see myself being so contrary and adversarial all the time. Anyway, having my first son during law school, contributed to me abandoning the idea that I was going to be a lawyer and save the world, but I did finish up and received my J.D. degree.

But I have always gravitated towards jobs where I could try to save the world. I am happiest when I have a cause. For several years, I was a volunteer guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children facing a foster care review hearings. That experience opened my eyes to drugs, mental illness, poverty and real meanness and how screwed up parents begat screwed up children oftentimes. I also learned that being nice isn’t enough, especially when a child’s future is in your hands. And not to believe everything an expert tells you.

When I was an outreach/social worker with a senior center, I drove our elderly members to shop for groceries, held their hands as they heard bad news from doctors, checked on a parents for worried children to see if they were handling living alone okay, dogged “friends” of a widow who were bilking her out of every penny she had left, visited those who had no visitors, wrote checks for a woman who kept everything she ever had stacked in ceiling-high piles. I was a daughter to folks who needed one but didn’t have her, and I grew to love them. We moved out of state, and I eventually took a job with our county human services department until after 9/11 when I went back to school to study advertising, design and illustration.

It took me some time, trial and error I call it, to find what I love to do. Design and writing. It came a bit late, but it came nonetheless. If I could go back and start over as a young person just out of college, I would become a package designer. I know that sounds strange coming from a person who says she wants to save the world. I finally decided to just try to save myself.


Marion said...

What a wonderful post, Sheila! Your designer gifts are apparent in the photos of your home here and the general looks of your blog.


Natalie said...


I had similar thoughts as a journalism major of wanting to save the world, and found out that although jornalists can do that, it's harder than you think and that it's hard to live on the paycheck you get. Also, there's a lot of distateful things you have to cover as a reporter that makes someone who's empathetic feel like a nosey intruder rather than a helper. Anway, now that I work for a trade magazine and write about things that aren't of life and death importance, I feel that in my own small way at least I am helping many small business owners by promoting their products. Their businesses succeed, they are able to put kids through college, and hopefully make someone else happy in the process with the goods they create. I think graphic/package design has a similar purpose. It's fueling our economy in a positive way, makes people happy when they see it, and makes you happy in the process. Sounds like a win-win career to me.

Tim said...

You're truly great with what you do, Sheila. I must admit, if I could go back in time and change my career or life's direction, I would have a hard time deciding. I often regret not becoming a scientist or something in the field of science, but so many things in life taught me things that I likely may have not learned had I not experienced what I have. So, would I change it? Maybe, maybe not. I'll never know, and perhaps for most of us that will never know, it's for the best.

Dirty Butter said...

I was thinking along the lines of what Tim said. It's all those earlier life experiences, that you decided were not right for you, that shaped you into the person you are today. If you went back and made the leap straight to design ... you probably would not be happy with it.

Sheila said...

Thanks all for writing.

Natalie, I think your observation about being a nosey intruder hits the nail on the head. Journalists do a valuable job in covering what we need to know, but some of what is covered is done so at the risk of this intrusion into what might better be left a private time.

Tim, I could see you as a scientist. You seem to gravitate in that direction. But, as you and Rosemary say, our life experiences do make us who we are.

Would I change? Perhaps. But I feel that no matter our course in life, the journey is not a simple straight shot.