In life, there is no such thing as a crystal ball. We can look into future and plan what we believe we may be happy doing, but we can never truly tell until we get there. So much of what we learn in college is completely irrelevant in the real world and this is something we suspect but never really know until we get out there and actually experience the real world for ourselves.
As a young girl, I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. That carried me on through just about the end of college. While I knew that I wanted to impact people’s lives in a positive light, I was somewhat blinded by just exactly how I wanted to do the impacting. Toward the tail end of college, I switched my focus from broadcast journalism to public relations. Surely I thought I could make a difference by helping people get their message out and showcasing the positive side of every scenario. I was wrong. I saw the big, bad, business world. And what I saw, I didn’t like. I didn’t like how all of my time and effort seemed to only benefit the pocketbooks of the greedy. I didn’t like the deceitfulness, manipulation and flat out lies of the business world. And most importantly, I didn’t like how it made me feel. Sure I got a kick out of a great interview or article and you bet that I was genuinely thrilled when I secured a speaking engagement or award. Deep down though, I knew I wanted all of my effort to benefit something greater and an increase in revenue or a company’s stock price just wasn’t cutting it.
Now, I have done some soul searching and am getting down to the basics of what I love. I love helping people achieve their goals, I love teaching people new things, and I love encouraging people to do something they think that they can’t. I have also thought about what subjects truly interest me and what my real passions are. I have always loved the English language, writing, history, politics, US government and children. Also, as much as I would like to say that it is just a hobby, running has become a large part of my life and I am an addict. It gives me joy, solace, challenges, humility, faith and even love. By now, I am pretty sure where you can see where I am going with this.
I am not supposed to work in a cube all day for the sole benefit of several companies and their shareholders’ pocketbooks. I am not supposed to keep the joys and spirit of running limited to myself and my running group. I am supposed to inspire and encourage as many people as I can. Even if I am only able to inspire one person for the rest of my life, it would bring me more fulfillment than millions of inches of print and tightly constructed messaging plans.
I have already made the first step and scheduled my first test. I have decided to make a sharp turn in my life down a one-way road to becoming a teacher. A high school teacher – perhaps teach Composition or English or US History or US Government, maybe even a newspaper class. That is still to be decided; however I genuinely love all of those subjects. Also, as a teacher, I will be able to share my passion of running and weave it into my career. I can coach cross country or track, or maybe even start an SRLA (Students Run LA, a program that encourages at-risk youth to train for the LA Marathon. It has proven to increase a child’s chances of completing high school) program.
I have no idea I made it through four and a half years of college before realizing this. But, it is never too late to chase your dreams. It will take a couple years to get my pre-requisites and credentials but it will be worth it.
Christina Cassell is going back to school, in more ways than one.