Hey Mister! What do YOU do?

So we are country of hustlers. Everyone has a side job, or a cottage industry on Etsy.com, or some sort of freelance project these days. Born out the bad economy, people became creative when it came to making ends meet. I even published a book about NYC hustlers called “Hustle City“…shameless plug…buy it on Amazon….

I am no different though. I have been a college administrator for 20 years now (I know I don’t look that old…right!…right?!?!). I have an established career with respect from my peers.

But that’s not all folks!

I have also established myself as a pretty good photographer, if i do say so myself. I have a healthy clientele and I have published two books while currently working on two more (PS see me if you like to wear bow ties).

So where am I going with all of this?

Today I participated in career fair in my fraternity Brother’s school. Streams of students mulled by my table and asked the same question:

“Hey Mister! What do YOU do?”

And then I had to stop and think: what is going to be interesting to these 4th and 5th graders? Then again, maybe I should be telling them about the career that will inspire them…well which one is that? LOL Lord knows I dare not try to explain having two careers to them! I could see their little eyes start to glaze over at THAT prospect!

Well I chose to tell them about being a photographer and all that went into it. They seemed very interested in the pictures that I showed them and how I created the images. They wanted to know if I took pictures of famous people so I mentioned Chris Brown and Mariah Carey. I lost them, though, when I talked about New Edition and Uncle Charlie!!

I started to wonder: what does Lady C think her daddy does? She knows I’m a photographer and she knows which college I work for, but what does she think I DO there? If asked, which job would she choose?

What do your kids think you do?
You should ask them and
tell me what happens?
I’d love to hear the responses!

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I Don’t Want My Kids To Be ANYTHING When They Grow Up…

…. Yet.

I don’t want my kids to be anything when they grow up YET. We are overachievers in this household. Education is paramount, success is a goal but as I look at my five year old and 17 month old, I don’t want them to want anything in particular as a career goal for a loooooooooooong time.

When I was five years old I knew what I wanted to be… a LAWYER. For a short time, I wanted to also be a figure ice skater like Debi Thomas, but by and large I wanted to be a lawyer because of my two idols: Thurgood Marshall and Claire Huxtable. I did not have any lawyers who were family members but I knew that lawyers helped people, the way Marshall did and that you could have a balanced life of being a great mother and wife if you were a lawyer because Claire did that – HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *EXHALES* HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *EXHALES* HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *EXHALES* HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *EXHALES* HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

ok….. back to the blog…

So that was it – I was going to be lawyer… and that image and goal became such a fantasy that I could not divide myself from it. It became an overwhelming expectation and I would lead with it –

I’m Aisha, I’m from Brooklyn and I’m going to be a lawyer.

The adults around me started to expect it to the point where I heard – Aisha’s going to be the first lawyer in the family, she’s going to be my lawyer some day. I embraced it without really knowing what I was signing up for and also, I closed myself off from other options that were possible for me. When I was in high school I had a math teacher who asked what I wanted to be… I said a lawyer. She looked me dead in the face and said – you have the mind for math, you need to become an engineer and she suggested that I change my high school major. But, I could not do it, Aisha the Lawyer had become such a part of my identity that doing anything else would seem like a failure. So I pressed on… I went to college with the SOLE goal of getting good enough grades to go to law school… that was it. I did not use college as a space of exploration or growth the way I should have – I just wanted to get good grades… and I did it. I often heard from people that I should be a teacher or counselor but I ignored that. I worked at the neighboring law school, I worked at a law firm. I graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors and was accepted into one of the top ten law schools in the country… Ivy League. Holy Grail.

Now – I currently love my law related job but I no longer practice law. In fact, in many ways I act as a counselor and teacher (ha!) to fellow attorneys. I don’t regret getting my law degree (still think it’s one of the best professional degrees you can get) but what I do regret is the exploration that I missed out on because I was myopic about my goals. I allowed the pressure of being able to answer the question: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? take more control over me than it should have especially during a time in life when answering the question was not necessary. Before I even knew who I was or what my talents were I had defined myself…. that’s backwards.

So for my children, I don’t want them to be ANYTHING when they grow up except … OPEN.

When you were young – did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?