I spent a lot of time playing in the dirt this week. I went for a few muddy runs, and I spent three days doing yard work.
I put a truckload of topsoil down on the garden. I pulled weeds, tilled soil, planted flowers and seeds, and unloaded a few truckloads of mulch and spread it in the yard. At the end of each day my body ached, I smelled, and you could tell I had spent the day in the sun.
It was glorious.
As I was hoisting my shovel full of dirt and enjoying every minute of it, I kept thinking back to college. The question I asked myself was, "If I knew then what I know now, would I have taken the same path?" The answer is a resounding "No." At 18, I didn't know myself well enough to know what I wanted to do with my life. I'm not sure I even realized you could go to school to learn a trade that would keep you outside all day. I thought college meant that you study hard so you can get a good, 8 - 5 desk job with benefits and advancement potential. A career in the great outdoors never entered my mind.
I went back for my master's degree at 26. I chose a little better. I pursued journalism--and I do enjoy writing. But it wasn't until my 30s that I started to realize I was meant to be outside in a job that's physically demanding. That's not to say that I don't want to be mentally challenged in my career. I do--to some extent. But not to the point where I feel stressed--where the stresses of the day come out in my dreams at night (or in my lack of sleep at night).
In my 30s I met friends who made a career out of being naturalists, adventure guides, outdoor education specialists, bootcamp instructors, running coaches, photographers, etc. There's a whole world out there of careers that don't involve sitting behind a computer all day.
So finally, at 40 I'm headed in the right direction for me. I'm a fitness professional, freelance writer, scheduler for a magazine, gym manager, aerobics instructor--a little bit of everything (which is really good for my short attention span). And I have time to play in the dirt.
So if I knew then what I know now, would I take a different path? Yes. I wouldn't trade the friendships or the experiences I had in college for anything, but I would change my career path. I would have pursued a degree in exercise science or botany or landscape design.
I'm not sure what the solution is. College starts at 18 for most. And you have to pick some sort of career track. Some people seem to get it right. They are happily doing the careers they set out to do in college. But it just seems like such a young age to make that choice.
So I pose the question to you. Did you make the right choice back in college (or trade school, training, etc.)? Or if you could be 18 again, would you chose a different path?
- J.J. Kunkle
- I am the owner of The Fit Life, LLC. The Fit Life, LLC offers fitness instruction and nutrition counseling in a holistic way. I focus on personal training using mainly your own body strength--very little equipment. I also hold a certification in holistic nutrition. Because nutrition counseling regulations are very strict in Ohio, I'm still working on what nutrition services I can provide to my clients; however, I'm happy to provide general nutrition information. I enjoy teaching TRX, Indoor Cycling, and Boot Camps.
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