When I first started college, I knew exactly what I wanted to be: a computer engineer. I enrolled in an engineering school, got myself a programmable calculator, and I was off. Reality set in pretty quickly; it didn't take me long to figure out that engineering wasn't right for me. But that didn't tell me what was right for me!
I left school and spent some time doing nothing terribly meaningful. I worked fast food, partied rather a lot, and generally became that kid every parentis afraid their kid will become...though somewhere in there I did write the first version of the computer game that now, many years later, helps pay my rent.
I explored relationships. I got married. Out of curiosity, I picked up a used SLR camera and taught myself photography. I discovered I loved it, and for the next ten years or so I straddled the line between dedicated amateur and professional. I set up a darkroom in my house, the whole bit. I also taught myself graphic design, mostly by publishing small-press magazines.
After that, I started a career in prepress, almost by accident. I needed a job, a friend was working in a prepress shop, and wham! I did that for about ten years, during which time I made a lot of contacts in the advertising industry.
I kept up with computers, both out of necessity and out of interest, and pretty soon my prepress clients were asking me how to set up networks and such. So I quit doing prepress and started a small consulting business doing computer installation and networking...and made rather a lot of money doing it.
One of my clients found out I had design experience, so hired me on full-time to do advertising and marketing for them. I did that for a few years, but my heart wasn't in it; it didn't fill me with joy. That client was absorbed into a small electronics startup that made storm detection gear, and I became a minority partner in that company. I moved to Atlanta, where my time was divided between maintaining the company's Web site, doing advertising, doing photography, and soldering boards together.
The company folded, and I left Atlanta. I quit doing advertising and Web development and became a writer, sex educator, and activist instead. My partner Eve and I started a publishing company to publish our book on polyamory, More Than Two. It's already sold more than 4,000 copies even though it's only been out since September--not bad for a new nonfiction book by untested authors starting a new publishing company.
You can always change course, right up until the day you're dead. There is always, always time to do something new. Your true self can be known only by systematic experimentation, and controlled only by being known.
Outside that brief moment when I thought I would be an engineer, I've never known what I wanted to be when I grow up. And it's worked out fine. It is never too late to re-invent yourself.
I'm writing one blog post for every contribution to our crowdfunding we receive between now and the end of the campaign. Help support indie publishing! We're publishing five new books on polyamory in 2015.