I’ve got a job! My first proper, paid actual money, J-O-B. Obviously I’ve had a job before but I’m talking about the first job you get that sets you on the career path of what you actually want to do. This got me thinking back to the career aspirations of childhood days, to those times when I uttered the words “When I grow up I want to be…”
I decided I wanted to work with words when I was a teen but before I wanted to be a writer; believe it or not, I wanted to be a vet. However, a lack of enthusiasm for anything math or science related, coupled with my huge phobia of birds and hatred of anything remotely messy pretty much put paid to that crazy ambition. Plus I didn’t really want to spend my adult life with my arm up a cow’s do-dah. Eww. That accurately sums up the short-lived dream of wanting to be an animal doctor.
And before I wanted to be a vet? What lofty career ambitions did I hold? Aside from aspiring to be Baby Spice’s BFF? Pop star maybe? Actress? Astronaut? Nope, I aimed high. I wanted to be a shoe shop assistant. I always knew how to shoot for the stars. What glass ceiling?
Looking back it was all those childhood trips to Clarks that did it. When Mamma Smith used to lead little me into town with the promise of some shiny new shoes. If I’m honest it wasn’t the shoes themselves that inspired the dream. Whether glossy patent buckled shoes, lace up boots or practical school pumps, the end result didn’t really matter; it was the process and experience of finding a new pair that made the impact.
No matter how long ago we’ve all been there, there being the kids section of the shoe shop with its bright colours, limitless choice and shiny mirrors looking like the promise land to little girls. There you sit next to your mum on the provided chairs discussing the specific style you want surrounded by the smell of new leather, insoles and cardboard boxes. It’s the feeling of excitement at being brought something new, mixed with anticipation and nervous indecision. The nice shoe shop lady comes over and smiles. Right away you know your feet are in good hands, that this canny shop assistant is already a step 😉 ahead. She instantly knows the perfect pair for you but just to be sure your tootsies are sized up with the sliding shoe measurer. The lady then disappears into the mysterious stockroom full of boxes and seems to know precisely which one contains your shoes. Out she comes with the box, popping it into a bag and presenting it to you. Here they are! New shoes just for you! It was at this moment that I used to think, “when I grow up I’m going to be a magical shoe giver too.”
I wanted to spend my days among the fabulous footwear, work the stupendous sliding sizer-upper and learn the secrets of the stockroom.
But alas, like an old pair of patent shoes the lustre and shine of shoe shopping has worn off over the years. My once-upon-a-time desire to be a shoe shop assistant has faded slowly over time. It’s sad to admit after reflecting so fondly on such memories but the thought of finding new footwear these days fills me with cold dread. I abhor shopping for shoes. It’s tiresome, time consuming and more often than not unsuccessful; not to mention uncomfortable during the ‘bedding in’ process. Shudder.
Nowadays I actively avoid shoe shopping. Case in point: I’ve been wearing the same boots day in, day out, since January 2010. I’ve had them repaired and patched up so many times it would probably be cheaper to buy a new pair but we all know that’s not going to happen. I live in fear of that once longed for, now terrifying trip to the shoe shop.
Yes, the tide did truly turn in terms of career aspirations. By the time I hit my teens copious copies of Elle and Cosmo Girl had set me on my journalistic journey.
So we’ll never know if I could have taken the shoeniverse by storm as a fitter of footwear. Then again, if this new job doesn’t work out everyone needs a plan B.
When you were littler versions of yourself what career dreams did you have? Comment or tweet @JemmFrances.