Friday, March 7, 2008

My Next Career

The most disappointing thing about early adulthood, for me, was not having enough confidence in myself to pursue my crazy, creative goals. (Quick FYI: Some careers I think would have been a good fit: pastry chef, features editor at a fashion magazine, graphic designer, stylist and personal shopper.) A propos of this, I did enroll to become a chef - which would have required leaving university for college - but I lost my nerve at the last minute. And I did try to become a writer; it's just that rejection didn't sit well with me. I was a bit of an anxiety-ridden wuss, to be truthful. But I come from a background where security and affluence is prized. And I think it's kind of merciless, really, that the universe / modern educational system require you to choose your path before you even know what makes you tick - before you really know how to say, fuck it, this is what I'm going to pursue.

Having given you the sob story, you should know that I'm a person who still manages to mix the technical with the creative in her career. I lead a fine life which, while not perfect, is a work in progress towards the end-goal of personal satisfaction. I am unimaginably fortunate (and grateful) for all my opportunities.

Nonetheless, there's this little aspirational game I've been known to play with friends called My Next Career. The rules are self-explanatory, you talk about what profession you wish you'd gone into in the first place, or which one you'd like to get into now, and describe a bit about what makes you want to move in that particular direction. I get a lot of mileage out of this, choosing a new (imaginary?) career every 5 minutes. The one I keep coming back to, however, for all-out frivolous pleasure, is the stylist / personal shopper combo.

Ask any of my pals - all of whom have been on the receiving end of this skill - and they'll tell you it's unavoidable. I will dress you up. You will love it. Or tolerate it, anyway. (Thank God I had a daughter! Thank God she loves clothes.)

Saturday was a delicious day, because my friend B - a woman who's always giving to others and less often giving to herself - decided to go shopping and invited me along. She suggested Winners (a good discount chain, to be sure), but I felt she'd be perfect in some vintage, so I convinced her to check out I Miss You and wow, what shopping kismet ensued!

B is a petite, fair, freckled red-head with a beautiful demeanour and a lovely shape. I only wish I could make her dress up in all the things we bought so I could put her pictures on the blog! Some standout items include a fantastic knit dress in deep robin's egg blue with a fantastic v-neck and a fitted waist / flared skirt, an amazing pair of boots from the 70's in burnt orange with a super-slim fitted calf and round/square toe. The heel is stacked but completely walk-able. She walked away with 2 dresses, 2 pairs footwear, belt and a coat for a veritable steal!

For my own part, she let me indulge the stylist fantasy by trying on absolutely everything I put in front of her. (Would that everyone were this easy!) And she totally left her comfort zone in the pursuit of new looks - which managed to make her look more like herself than ever.

All this has got me wondering if others out there are weekend personal shoppers or photographers or fashion designers. Do you have a next career lined up? If so, I'd love to hear.


  1. Oh yes, I have also had many imaginary careers. I never really decided what to do until (1) I got a job as a teenager, and thus learned to deal with difficult people and bosses, and (2) went to college and got to know a bit more about the "real" world. In other words, I decided that there was no reason to pay 15k a year for a degree that everyone would be proud of, but may not serve much purpose.

    The career I am pursuing now? Funeral director. Not for everyone, but I think it is something I can do and enjoy for a nice chunk of my life. It took a while for me to find this road, and then get up the nerve to tell my parents that I did not want to be at college anymore.

    There have been other jobs that stuck in my head, and they might be fun sometime later, or just to dream about. It is always fun to dream!

  2. I wanted to be an English professor for so long and kept meaning to go to grad school, and kept thinking it was my missed opportunity--until I realized I had no desire to write papers, go to class, or deal with a university system that no longer provides tenure, decent pay or even decent benefits.

    How I got so deep into health care, and hopefully soon a non-profit (fingers crossed) is still kind of strange to me.

    And while my friends always want to go shopping with me, I honestly prefer to go by myself. A friend who recently hired a personal shopper (and loved the experience) thought it'd be a great job for me but I honestly have the hardest time even dressing myself!

  3. 1. I'm always playing stylist with everyone. Sister, dad, mom, brother, best friend, boyfriend, bf's daughter, etc.

    2. I've done a lot of photography, and I almost majored in it in school. When they told me I'd have to do another semester, I got lazy and crapped out.

    3. I've done some painting, too, but never really pushed it.

    4. I was accepted to a v.v. hot shoe design school in London, but when I saw the tuition prices, I wimped out.

    5. I'd love to be a writer. Can't you tell?

    6. I'd love to be Production Manager at Vogue or similar.

    7. I've toyed with chef school.

    8. That IT bag I have is a Chloe, but it's not the one you think it is.

    9. I think you and I have lots of the same career interests, and maybe we should form a company and take over the world.

  4. I used to swirl around in my mind for years wondering what I wanted to do with my life, it varies from age bracket.

    On my part I had wanted to become: dentist, archaeologist, 2D animator, model, photographer, web designer, graphic designer, fashion/design/travel writer.

    To be honest, the Writer part was something I hadn't envisioned much upon until maybe 2 yrs ago. I didn't see myself as a writer though I've blogged constantly for 6 years (my personal blog that is).

    I also came to the realization that whatever people dream to be, they can achieve. By that I mean they have to be willing to make sacrifices, take in the bad with the good, the hardest parts of your life are the most meaningful (at least I find). People who are successful are successful because they work for it, they start from scratch and make their own opportunities. They capitalize on their qualities even if it's unrelated to their field because they're thinking outside of the box.

    I never envisioned being a fashion writer, but so far the experience has been mostly positive eventhough it's a dog eat dog industry. But I don't care, I write about fashion because I love it, I like traveling and well designed spaces. My goal isn't to write for a fashion magazine anymore, I find more pleasure in reading the fashion news more than anything else, so I'd like to write for the NY Times or the WallStreet Journal.

    Yep that's my goal, and by that I'll have to go back to school for Journalism, so I'm working on it.

    Don't give up people :) There are 100 yr old men still working and jogging at marathons. I think you can achieve your dreams if you work hard at it and not give up.

  5. Being a personal shopper/stylist would be so fun. Sadly none of my friends are into fashion and would probably never wear what I pick out for them. And aww I think it's sweet you have a daughter who loves clothes too. I pray I have a daughter who will love clothing as well, I'd love to have someone to hand down my favorite shoes and bags to.

  6. I've been personal shopping for friends and fam since I was a teenager, and then the last blog I had before Lacquer ( was me doing it online, for strangers. it's lovely, and a lot like line editing...keeping the person's voice, but just cleaning things up a little. people are always surprised that I don't just dress them like me.

    however, I'm studying to be an english prof (4 more years. yargh.) and before that, I trained as a violinist. and jazz singer.

  7. I remember I used to want to be a zoo keeper
    That never happened

  8. I'm thrilled that readers wanted to be--or are studying to be--an English professor. I find this career very rewarding.

    But I'd also love to be a cultural critic for the Times style section, or a triple threat performer: I love to sing, dance, and act on stage.

    Interestingly, I have zero desire to dress others, though I deeply appreciate those who do. If I ever journey to Toronto, I'll be in touch!!

  9. Wow: What amazing comments from everyone! Thanks for all the feedback. I've loved reading what you all have to say.

    Nancy: You get the prize for the most unique career shift. I've never known a funeral director and, truly, I'm a bit scared of dead people, but I imagine that this profession will give you such an appreciation for the things you have and the value of life. Isn't it always about getting up the nerve to tell the parents!

    Ambika: We should have a telecon with Miss C or Lady (prof and future prof) about the world of English academia. I too wanted to be a prof for a while (funny I didn't put that in my post) but the endless papers (and timeframe) were not appealing.

    Enc: I'm so up for taking over the world with you :-) I can't believe you got accepted into design school. So sexy. And now that I know you take a mean picture, I'm going to officially lobby for pics of your outfits and it bags!

    Dahlia: Your attitude is inspirational. I love how you've turned a hobby into a life-goal and your blog is the proof that journalism is in your future.

    Jello: I have a feeling that your friends would respond more indulgently than you imagine. Choose the most pliable one and give it a go.

    Lady: I briefly checked out your makeover site a while ago. I'm going to give it more attention this weekend. What little I've seen of it, I like a lot. It's interesting how people always imagine you'll try to dress others like yourself. We "stylists" know it's all about finding the individual. I love how empowering it can be for the stylee. Do you still manage to be your musician-self with all the academia?

    Coco: It just hasn't happened yet :-)

    Miss C: Interesting how you're living the dream. I love the triple threat thing. I would totally do that! Interestingly, my daughter is very artistic and is doing a triple threat course at an acting school in TO. (Note to all: It's just for fun. I'm not a stage mom!)

  10. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, as I toy with starting a new business.
    Right now I have a sort of dream job, buying fashion and selling it online as well as doing some personal shopping for friends and clients. But the unpredictability of freelance work can be nervewracking with tuition bills and a mortgage to pay. My former career was in publishing which I loved, but the committment to a 50-hour workweek was just too much with young children and health issues.
    I've worked as a pastry chef, but rarely prepare food anymore; started a Masters in education (but decided I didn't like kids that much); trained in Interior Design, and used it to buy, renovate and sell 5 I guess I still haven't decided what to be when I grow up.

  11. I've been thinking of doing a photo inventory of my bag collection; it'd be interesting to do strictly the ones I had from my mother's collection. My sister's got the other half, though, and it'll be like pulling teeth to get her to photo them. I'll have to fly to her place and do the photos myself!

  12. I Heart: You have an impressive resume. I love the house reno / flipping idea. People here in TO can make a hundred grand doing that (when they do it well, natch). My mother was an interior designer at one point. Publishing sounds fascinating (if punishing) and pastry chef - well, you're a girl after my own heart (pun intended!) Thanks for your comment. And don't grow up too fast (what's the fun in that?)

    Enc: I'd love to see an inventory of your mother's bag collection - even if it's just your half. Is this where you learned your love of the chichi bag? K