“When I grow up…” is probably one of the most used sayings for those under 10 years old beside “Can I watch Netflix now?”
A few weeks back my oldest, who has just started school, had to dress up as what he wants to be when he grows up.
He decided on a Fireman. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a hose hound. A flame retardant. I hear the hours are reasonable and many of them can work a second job around their shifts at the station. Jobs such as exotic dancers for Hen’s Parties. I suppose it is a logical progression when the uniform is the same.
But this made me reflect on what it was that I wanted to be when I was a kid.
The earliest career dream I can remember was to become a Soldier. I think it was because they have guns. I grew out of that a few years later but I think the reason most people still join the Army is because of the guns. That or the chance to have a tank as your company car.
Around the age of eight I had a desire to be a Builder. We were getting the family home renovated and I liked the smell of wood chips and the fact you wore a tool belt. I perceived early on that jobs that require specialist belts are rare.
When I was 10 years old I made a career choice that was more lifestyle based. It involved living on my Nan’s farm and running a Car Wash business from the sheds. I didn't like the idea of working the land as an actual farmer. I must have known at an early age agriculture is a hard industry to be in. My car wash empire revolved around the notion that my Nan would soon die. I remember asking my Mum how long she had to live approximately, as this needed to be factored into my planning. I would then live in the bungalow with my mate Matt and we would wash cars all day, wear overalls and be bringing in the big bucks - enough to have a fridge full of Coke cans like Tom Hanks in Big.
The car wash dream died soon after, and luckily Nan didn't (She’s still alive to this day with a much smaller shed…you couldn't even run a dog wash from it).
I again become interested in the emergency services, preferring to imagine myself one day becoming a Cop. I think it was the combination of the uniform, vehicle and again, the gun. Maybe if more big corporates looked to dress their employees in cool uniforms with lots of pockets, buttons and zips, gave them vehicles with sirens to drive in and handed out a few more company-issue firearms…it wouldn’t be so hard to attract quality staff.
Once I hit high school, there was only one thing I wanted to be. A professional footballer. I remember having to make sacrifices in pursuit of my dream, shunning the fast life of the teenage social scene for a good nights sleep and full energy reserves for training. Soon enough this balloon popped and the reality of my abilities kicked in, and I fell a few steps short of my goal.
Luckily though, I was still young enough to develop a new career ambition - rock star. I applied the same dedication to improving my musical abilities as I had to football. Unfortunately, or fortunately for lovers of early 2000’s pop-punk/post-hardcore, my rock star musical credentials were lacking.
I headed to university on track to become a Marketing graduate but not loving the idea of spending a lifetime promoting businesses. So when I stumbled upon Stand Up Comedy, I knew I had found my life’s purpose.
For the 7 few years I spent countless hours in smoke-filled bars, sweaty clubs, cupboard-sized rooms and run down theatres learning the trade of talking to roomfuls (more often unfilled) of people wanting to laugh (who would often not achieve that state) and willing to pay for it (mostly with their time rather than legal tender).
It was the best times of my life and I learnt as much from that as I did at university. Yet I had a constant internal niggle to use my degree. Although my time in comedy showed some promise, fame and opportunity weren’t quick to show their heads. What I did see where many old, lonely heads who had walked that path ahead of me as their life choice, and it didn't look good.
I am sure when your only other career option is slinging bins into the back of a garbage truck, then working as a club stand up for a few hundred cash each week is a viable alternative. Who needs superannuation when you’re not sure if your liver, or your onstage persona, will let you live to 60 anyway?!
I decided to place the mic down (as oppose to throw it away) after a sad-clown moment post a comedy festival show and there it has remained for the past five years.
Around that time I became a Dad, and life got serious.
This meant using the degree, doing the Marketing jobs and working in offices with photocopiers and people called Wendy, sharing birthday cakes and awkward team building days.
I am far from living my dream, but I am probably living someone else’s. I make good money, have been able to travel the world and have got to meet and work some great people.
Last weekend I was talking to a friend about what we said we wanted to be when we finished High School. We worked out only one or two people actually achieved that (Bevan did say he would end up in jail, but then didn't specify if he was OK with that, so we didn't count him).
No kid goes to school dressed as an Account Manager for a cup company. You can’t ever tell where life will go. The stories are just too intricate and variable.
I did alway want to be a Dad. That’s my main job now and my kids make it the best. One of them wants to be a fireman…