I’m a born follower. The last of my parents’ nine children, I don’t know how I could be anything but. When it was time for me to go to college, I applied at exactly two, one where my brother went and the other in the city where another would soon move. I knew exactly precious little about either schools and it didn’t really matter since I didn’t really have a plan for what I wanted to study.
When I was accepted and enrolled at UW Madison, I asked my brother what I should be. He surveyed me on my interests and I told him I liked psychology, mostly because of the cool teacher who taught it in high school. He was studying Occupational Therapy and suggested I do the same, with an emphasis in psychology, if I had an interest there.
Done. I signed up for the mostly science classes, including zoology and chemistry, and found that I may have made the wrong choice. Science had never been my thing and these classes weren’t either. It also didn’t help that I often skipped the 500-person lecture because no one would miss me. Even the psychology class — which I did go to — was harder. I only found one class easy and that was Freshman Literature. I loved it and my passionate, young and attractive professor.
So that’s how I became an English major. Like most parents, mine didn’t exactly see the road to riches ahead for me, since I didn’t really have any idea what I might use such a degree for. But finally, I was doing well in my classes, and going to my classes, so that was something.
Since college, I’ve worked in public relations, copywriting, marketing, event planning, and everything in between. I love what I do, love to write, and see how I use the skills I learned in college and that I’ve learned from others and my experiences along the way.Luckily about the same time, another brother met and married a woman who worked in publicity. I watched and was impressed that the types of things she did could be considered work. She helped me find an internship and shared her contacts with me. I added a few public relations, advertising, marketing, and news writing courses to my load and suddenly I was a lot more employable.
Being a follower helped me get to where I am, but I’m not the same person I once was. Being a follower is good when there are good people in front of you, but eventually, you have to set off on your own path. Hopefully, in life, we learn to be both a leader and a follower.
This post was previously published on Catherine Lanser and is republished here with permission from the author.
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