At my daughter’s request, I participated in “Career Day” at her school recently. I was thrilled that she asked me. My husband presented last year and the kids really enjoyed his talk, so I was kind of feeling the pressure. I had a great time with some very smart fourth and fifth graders about what it means to be a writer. We talked about poets, authors, speechwriters, journalists, online content, social media, personal journaling, blogging and even texting!
I tried to share with them the different tasks involved with being a writer. Knowing your audience, doing your research, making some kind of an outline, and then the actual writing/editing/re-writing/ and how to cope when you’re staring blankly at a glowing white screen.
But the conversation veered off track as we broached the subject of my role in managing social media. I’d planned to show them how to take one marketing message and adapt it to fit each medium. But as luck would have it, the school has a firewall which prevented me from actually demonstrating any of the social media stuff I do for clients. That’s right. The social media lady couldn’t get on social media.
It was a cruel irony.
So we just had a really good chat. I was surprised to learn how many of them have Instagram accounts. Many didn’t quite know what Twitter was, and of course all of them were familiar with Facebook. We also talked about how to be safe online and the importance of guarding what you post whether it’s a photo, video or just some words that you can never take back. It was a good mix of silly and thoughtful comments.
And then one student asked me something that made me smile. She said, “Was this the job you wanted to do when you were little? What did you want to be when you grew up?” I smiled because I knew the answer right away.
After clarifying that no, I didn’t know I wanted this job when I was younger because the Internet didn’t exist back in the dark ages, I told them what I really wanted to be when I was a kid. Movie star? No. Firefighter? No. Nurse? Maybe. Rock star? Perhaps. (It should be noted here that I totally *kill it* when I’m alone in my car with the windows rolled up and the volume as high as it goes).
What I really wanted to be when I grew up was a photojournalist for National Geographic. I know, right? Coolest job ever. Imagine traveling the world, meeting new people, seeing new things, taking some glorious pictures and getting paid for it. Outside of the six New England states and one high school trip to Florida, I didn’t do much traveling as a kid. But man did I dream about it. And I had a little fuel for my dreams.
A favorite uncle who was in the Navy at the time sent me beautiful postcards from all over the world. I added them to the postcard collection I’d unknowingly started after a trip to the Ringling Brothers Circus when I was about six years old. (Note: this is also where I developed my great love of elephants). My souvenir from the circus trip was a packet of commemorative postcards featuring many of the popular acts.
I kept the cards in a little shoebox. My own personal treasure chest at its beginning stages. And then, gradually, I added to it…one postcard at a time. Summer beach trip to Maine? Postcard. School field trip to Plymouth Plantation? Postcard. But the ones I found most fascinating were the ones from my uncle from such exotic places as:
Perth, Australia; Guam; Italy; Kenya; Japan; and Wake Island in the Mid-Pacific.
Then family members sent postcards – from Italy, France, Las Vegas, Vermont, San Francisco, Canada and Ireland – and I kept them all.
I was hooked. I wanted to see the world!
A few years ago while working at Disney, I noticed a long, slender book in the gift shop at the France pavilion at Epcot. It was labeled: Cartes Postales. I bought it immediately when I discovered it was to hold postcards. Today, nearly every space is filled with hundreds of postcards I’ve collected over the years. It’s one of my most treasured possessions. I haven’t traveled to half of the places in my Cartes Postales book and I most certainly do not work for National Geographic. But I love that just by opening up this cute little book I can still take a trip around the world whenever I want to. Just by looking at these beautiful pictures.