When I was 6 years old, I desperately wanted to be a zookeeper. Stuffed animals, Zoo Books and a mountain of Beanie Babies filled my room. I frequently fed and played with our two dogs, and I begged my parents to take me to the Abilene Zoo almost every day because I wanted to feed the giraffes, watch the lions and make faces at the monkeys.
The love and passion for animals that filled my young heart made me certain I would take care of animals as a zookeeper for the rest of my life.
But I’m graduating in six months with a degree in journalism.
Obviously, the life plans I made as an elementary school kid didn’t quite play out the way I expected.
I realized somewhere around middle school that being a zookeeper wouldn’t be as easy as I had always thought. My passion for zoo keeping was all in my heart – not in any tangible skills I possessed. Once I realized that science just wasn’t my thing, I gave up on my love for animals and focused on my other strength – writing.
At some point in school, teachers begin telling students they must focus on what they’re good at, but often this makes children forget to focus on things they love. Instead, teachers should be honest with students, letting them know they won’t all grow up to be the next star NFL player or the next Justin Beiber, but encouraging children to combine the things they love with the talents they possess when considering career possibilities.
Now that I’m nearing graduation, I find myself taking lessons from “elementary school Linda.” Looking past the huge glasses and tangled mess of hair, I see a child who wanted to devote her life to something she loved.
I’m not planning on changing my major to zoology or anything like it, mostly because I really do struggle with science and honestly don’t really love animals anymore.
But everyone should feel that same passion, that same sparkle and that same joy for something in life and figure out a way to turn it into a career. That’s not to say I don’t love journalism because I do – I’m just not sure yet how to turn the parts of journalism I love into a successful career. And when graduation and the real world is staring you in the face, it’s not fun to think of spending the rest of your life doing something you don’t completely love.
My mom says work is hard, no matter what it is, and I believe her. But I cling to the hope that one day I’ll find a job that even amid the hard work, I can sit back and admit that I love what I’m doing – almost as much as I once loved zoo keeping.