Family Life Personal

I’ve Gone On A Career By Mistake!

What will I be when I'm a grown-up? Oh heck, I am a grown-up!

“We’ve gone on holiday by mistake!”

Yes, from Withnail & I.

Just one great line among the many in that tragic-comic movie classic.

It also kind of sums up how I feel about my “career” in journalism.

I fell into it, if not by mistake, literally, then certainly not by design, or ambition.

If you know the movie, you’ll remember the scene:

The titular pair have escaped the daily humiliations of life as out-of-work actors in the big city for the daily humiliations of life in an unheated, broken-down country cottage, owned by I’s Uncle Monty.

Our penniless anti-heroes are starving and cold, and it’s bucketing rain as they head off on foot looking for fuel and wood. The rain plastering their hair to their heads, and cascading down their blinking faces, they flag down a neighbouring farmer in his tractor.

What a scene!

Journalism was not something I had thought about as a career when I was growing up.

Though even as a small boy I loved the sports and features section in our daily newspaper, the Irish Independent.

News was boring and for grown-ups, people like my mom and dad who got vexed about politics and watched the Late Late Show — “And here is  your host, Gay Byrne!

Every Sunday evening, I’d go up to Granddad and Aunt Maura’s to read her Express, then a big, messy, satisfying broadsheet.

Heaven was a rambling, pungent piece, the odd photograph but mostly words — lots and lots of words, the more words the better — filling an entire page, about some famous runner or boxer, or best of all, a footballer like Bobby Moore or Peter Osgood.

James Lawton, Alan Hubbard, and Danny Blanchflower are writing names I remember from that time. But they weren’t the stars; the people they wrote about were, like Muhammad Ali or Dave Wottle.

So there was no scribbling of juvenile “scoops” for me, no cut-down trench coat and Trilby with “Press” in the hatband!

No, I was in my mid-20s, having spent a few years in Europe, knocking around, picking fruit, working in factories, even a stint as a builder’s mate with a friend of mine in small-town France.

Haphazard but fun.

But the time had come to think about a “career”, whatever that might be.

And it all came down to a man I met when I was working as a tour guide with Irish pilgrims in Lourdes.

We got friendly, this man and I, and had several great chats.

We must have been talking about what I might work at next. What might interest me, challenge me — and pay well enough.

He observed that I seemed to be articulate and interested in current affairs and all that, and did I ever consider being a journalist?

Ah … no!

But before I knew it I had fixed myself up with a place on a course, and the rest is … well, I’m still in the read all about it game.

It’s been okay … pays the bills, and eventful enough.

All of which, however, makes it kind of strange for me when I am attempting to steer our daughter, especially, towards something she might ultimately work in, and actually enjoy.

Get well paid enough for too, but not let money dictate things.

It is hard, though, isn’t it, for kids to make these decisions when they are still caught between wanting to save the world and murder their French teacher?

And still living with the worst Mom and Dad, ever!

All I know is I’ve always wanted that our kids would discover something they were passionate about doing, and let the rest take care of itself.

Be ready with the cash, of course,  and help out when required.

But let their paths be dictated by their passions.

As it stands, our lad loves football, and plays away, but who knows what will happen for him?

He is a fine footballer but at 14, he has been hindered for some time by a knee condition, variously identified as a variation of Osgood Schlater, or as tendonitis of the knee.

Either way, it restricts his explosive movement, jumping or sudden sprinting.

It’s limiting, but he doesn’t talk about it, he just gets on with it, even as he struggles for speed and power against players who he would have dominated in his pomp.

He won’t hear of stopping to allow his knee issue to be sorted before resuming when he is 100 per cent

No, he keeps plugging away, making the best of it. So admirable.

Our daughter is creative, and has a creative temperament to go with it, to put it carefully. But admirable too in so many ways. Opinionated, feisty and honest. Very honest!

Her path isn’t straight-forward, but we try and work with her as she tries to find her passion, and herself.

Doesn’t really sound like a plan all of that, though, does it?

And it’s a bit scary, trying to prepare the way for a passion to be explored and developed, when it has hardly leaped out and announced itself to her. Or us.

So no guarantee, obviously, of success and satisfaction — whatever shape they might take — and there’s always the possibility things might not work out brilliantly.

But sure maybe that’s part of the journey too?

Wanting the grace to trust in the process and their strength of character and determination to make things happen for themselves.

Fearing they will blame us if things don’t work out.

Or even if they do.

Or would we be better off pushing the conventional options as they near the end of their school careers, and then just bankroll their choices off the career menu?

Works for the majority …

So, the Grand Plan, or Career by Mistake?

Like so many of us.

Me anyway.

When they get wherever they are going, finally, we can sit back, demand the finest wines known to humanity — “We want them here and we want them now!” — and drink to their successes.

And ours.

*My Word Of The Week (#WotW)  is, surprise, surprise, CAREER

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56 comments on “I’ve Gone On A Career By Mistake!

  1. I wanted to be something else too, and am still not sure what.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Daydreamer mum

    This is so hard !! Elder 2 have figured out their own way after a couple of false starts and I’ll see how that pans out but teen girl has just started A levels (after saying she definitely didn’t want to do anymore school!) but hasn’t a clue where she wants to go with that. Thin line between pushy and supportive !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There sure is, Kelly! Tough one … even though they will find their own way regardless of what we say or do anyway!


  3. Hi. My career (government work) wasn’t by mistake, but by necessity. Like you, I’d been doing some of this and some of that. Eventually I realized I needed to get into something a lot steadier.

    See ya!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoyed seeing your story. Visiting you from the global blogging link up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m convinced most careers are accidental, my job is, and that of most of my friends. Maybe I should have become (or aspired to become) the astronaut as the then 80year old neighbour of mine had recommended when I was a kid as there was a great future in that.. ah well… #globalblogging


  6. It’s always interesting to see how people “end up” in their jobs.
    I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was eleven years old, but got nothing but discouragement from teachers and counselors. Any time I told people I wanted to be a writer, they steered me in the direction of being an English teacher or reporter — neither of which I had any interest in what so ever.
    My parents admired my dream, but had no idea how to make it come true. We didn’t know that you could go to college for creative writing, professional writing, grant writing, etc. So I became a liberal arts student and hated it.
    Now I’m 34 and clawing my way back tooth and nail to get into ANY kind of writing. So I guess my best advice, based on personal experience, is for a student to broaden their horizons. Don’t pick a narrow path.
    Sigh. Hindsight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that is what happens for most people, Stacy, they “end up” in jobs or careers. I have tried to get into writing-related things, to earn money at it, but is hasn’t really worked out. I think you have to just write, and then see what happens


  7. Within & I such a classix film. Sometimes the best plans aren’t always planned. #DREANTEAM

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was really lucky at school because I always knew I wanted to teach really helped me to plan my choices at school. I often felt bad for those who had no idea of career path and just felt lost at sea. My eldest is determined to be an astronaut. I’ve no doubt he has the drive and determination to do it and so I’m going to start preparing myself now for him to move to Berlin to work at ESA!! #GlobalBlogging & #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good that you did have that sorted early! Astronaut, eh? Not short of ambition: aiming for the stars, literally!


  9. I wanted to be a primary school teacher. How does the song go? Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When I was six I wanted to be a librarian. I made it in the end but not until my mid 30s and lots of other jobs along the way. When I left school career wasn’t really a choice, a job was what was needed. None of my family were career minded unless you counted the army, and I was no rush to sign up. My daughter wanted to be a vet and now she works in the children’s hospital doing theatre work. She decided she liked animals too much to be a vet, she has no desire to ever have children of her own. I think it’s good to let them make their own way in the world. I love to write but journalism has never been a calling, I had hoped to have written a book by now, but the words have never arranged themselves correctly.
    It is a worry to think of what options our children will have in the future, and if they will be able to find their career paths or just wander along.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s an interesting point, Anne, the options our kids will have, because the very idea of career, ie pensionable and long-term, seems outdated now, fine to jump around jobs when you are a young go-getter, but not great when you settle down, try and get a mortgage etc


  11. Urgh, such a hard one. I fell into my job really – I had no idea what I wanted to be when I was older. I still don’t really. I hate all the pressure to “have a career”. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Tracey Carr

    Oh Enda, I wouldn’t push for conventional (unless of course conventional is what you want) because although it is safe and reliable, if the passion isn’t there then what is the point? I went down that path because I thought it was the ‘right’ thing to do but it was a mistake. I followed my head instead of my heart (and mostly because I knew that’s what my parents wanted) and if I could go back and change it now I would. I know it doesn’t help when trying to guide your kids in finding their career path but then I don’t think a single 18 year old out there knows what to do with their lives after leaving school. How could they? They are barely adults and loads of well-established adults don’t know what they want either! That’s a tough one…#globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes …that is the dilemma: find something you are passionate about at an age where you are not clear what that is, or how you might make a career of it, or choose from the list of options available … and maybe live to regret it, ir grow into it. Play safe maybe?


  13. Fabulous writing as ever Enda. I was always lucky enough to have a career goal in mind from being younger, and got to do my choice. But yes, I have changed as I get older. My partner has done so many jobs, and it wasn’t until he got into his 40s that he found a career he loves. Maybe the trick is to be adaptable and trust our guts. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I always wanted to be a ballerina, but I soon realised girls from council estates rarely end up as Prima Ballerina at the Royal Ballet, so I decided I would like to join the Navy and be a Wren. My careers advisor didn’t think that was a good idea and I eventually ended up working in a bank, which I hated. I don’t know what my girls will do, but I hope they do something they enjoy x


    Liked by 1 person

  15. Kate Holmes

    I had two dreams. I wanted to be a barrister after watching Crown Court so went off and studied Law at Cambridge and then thought the idea of making rich people richer was not my bag at all so went into advice agencies which I loved. I also wanted to be a writer and did some work experience in Cumbria on a newspaper but that did not work out well at all I think based on me not spelling”withhold” correctly. i guess blogging is writing in a way although I still want to write fiction and as beautifully as you do by the way which will never happen. My 18 year old set off for the UK 2 months ago determined to have a job within a month and is now back in full-time education doing an Access course in Humanities and even talking about trying for Oxbridge which seems like such a turnaround in so short a space of time but a pleasing one on the whole. My daughter wants to be a writer. My son wants to be a chef. I read your post and the comments and thought that parents were giving themselves too hard a time about what ultimately is up to the child/young adult. I then smiled as I realised that I do the very same thing all the time! #nolinky

    Liked by 1 person

    • I confess i never had the slightest clue when I was at school … I actually trained as a PE teacher simply because i loved football. Not cut out for it at all. Scrambled around thereafter before ultimately settling on journalism … well production stuff. Had actually left it but have had to resume, kids being kind of expensive! Your children seem to be determined to find a niche that suits them, which i admire and hope it goes well for them!


  16. I love how you’ve managed to link your career to “Withnail and I”!! Brilliant!!

    I was always destined to end up in the Performing Arts in some form or another. My daughter may end up following in Mummy’s footsteps but I’m not sure what my son will be. So long as they are both happy, that’s all that matters!


    Liked by 1 person

  17. twicemicrowavedtea

    I’m 41 and I still haven’t managed to find a career! At school I always did best in foreign languages, which was ironic because I was by far the quietest person in the class. Nevertheless I went on to study Japanese and German at university and went to live in Japan for a couple of years, where I taught English. And after that, I have no idea what happened. I’ve had all kinds of jobs, but I’ve never found anything I could really say that I felt destined to do. I suppose I’ve always thought it’s more important to find a job that makes you happy and fulfilled rather than a job that just makes you lots of money, but finding a job that makes you happy (and provides at least some income) is easier said than done. When I was working as a paralegal, my boss once told me during my appraisal: “Karen, we’d all like to go off and save the elephants, but there comes a point when you realise that you just need a job to pay the bills”. I see what he was saying, but even now, years later, I still struggle to accept it…. I’m just hoping my children have a lot more focus than me! #dreamteam

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s kind of what I am hoping for my kids too, Karen … that my kids identify things they are interested in, and move in those directions. I’m sure they will evolve and change as they do … and I just hope they are happy along the way!


  18. I think a lot of careers are serindipidous (?) rather than planned…but so is much of like….#KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  19. loopyloulaura

    My kids have no idea careerwise. It might be a good thing: I was certain I wanted to be a teacher but was put off by a boyfriend who did that for a living. Actually, I still have no idea what I want to do when I’m grown up! Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I stumbled into my first career by mistake, and spent 13 years doing it. I loved it, but it paid poorly. Now I’m on second career, not by mistake, and it pays poorly but I’m hoping that will change with the book publishing! I think so many kids go into careers for the money and security, but without the passion for it, the dream can become hollow. Maybe it’s best they try a bunch of stuff before dedicating themselves to one thing. And hey, it’s not like they can’t switch later if they find their first career isn’t so ideal! #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I am doing something completely different from what I studied – the money is not wonderful, it pays the bills but it is satisfying. My eldest daughter is entering high school next year and she wants to venture into design, the youngest wants to become a Vet. I’m sure it will change along the way #Dreamteam

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just hope our kids find satisfying careers too, Noleen. That they can use their abilities in ways that challenge and engage them.


  22. It’s interesting, isn’t it, where our paths take us – and how we can often find our careers in unexpected ways. I became a midwife as a result of seeing an advert on a bus one day and now I’m responsible for HR in my husband’s business which allows me to work mostly from home and be around for the children. I think perhaps teaching our children to follow their hearts but to know that different doors can be opened at different times in their lives will help them find their path. Thought-provoking as always. #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Louise … it’s all an adventure it seems. Our kids will have to live in a word where many of the old reliable longterm careers won’t exist … hope it works for them!


  23. Tracey Carr

    Back from the #dreamteam


  24. Tracey Carr

    Back for #KCACOLS !

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Tracey Carr

    Hello me again back for #itsok

    Liked by 1 person

  26. As always entertaining and thought provoking.

    Also a whooshing memory re Dave wottle!

    Regards Thom

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I still don’t know what I want to do but essentially it will feature writing somehow now I think. My daughter changes her mind like the wind but currently is going to live in LA and be a movie star! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I don’t think I ever had the first clue what I wanted from my career. I regret most of my subject choices when it came to A-levels and university – “you’re smart, so do maths and science” – but I don’t really regret my career, as haphazard and unstructured as it has been. From chemistry to marketing and ultimately social media in my mid (now late) 40s, which makes me practically a dinosaur. Maybe I could have accomplished more with a bit more drive and focus, but the ride has been (mostly) good fun and I’m happy with where I am now. Winding the clock back 25+ years, it’s not like I could even have begun to describe a future career in social media anyway, as no such thing existed! I suspect many of us ended up somewhere we could never have envisaged – it doesn’t make it a bad choice, though. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds (and reads!) like you are doing just fine Tim. You’ve obviously gravitated towards something you enjoy and are good at, so that’s a result! You are right, the choices we make aren’t necessarily the wrong ones


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