Thursday 13 January 2011

When I Grow Up I Want to Be

Today's blog dare prompt is what did I want to be when I grew up.

When I was a small child I had the usual dreams of vet, nurse, policewoman etc, but by the time I got to late primary school, I had strong ideas about what I would like to be when I grew up. I was a strange child, shy, a bit socially awkward, but generally happy. But, the things I found fascinating, and still do, were somewhat unconventional.

I wrote my first "essay" on communism when I was 9. By 11 I was writing school projects about the widecombe shearer's dispute. I had a very strong social conscience. I remember supporting teacher's on strike. I had a very strong sense of fairness, and felt very strongly about social justice, even at this tender age.
I adored Geoffrey Robertson's Hypotheticals, he was possilby my first hero. 

As I continued my education, this grew stronger. I loved 60 Minutes (the Australian one with George Negus and Ray Martin, and the gorgeous Jana Wendt, amongst other journalists) The story that really struck me was the investigation into the court cases surrounding Lindy Chamberlain and the tragic disappearance of her infant daughter Azaria. I also got very much involved in the story of "deep sleep therapy" at Chelmsford Hospital , and was horrified that no one was truly called to account for what happened to those vulnerable patients, putting their faith in "modern psychiatry".

At first, I wanted to be a lawyer. By the time I was in Year 12 my hero was Clive Stafford Smith, a young lawyer who eschewed a glittering career in the UK to work in some of the grimmest prisons in the Deep South of America. It was whilst watching a documentary about Edward Earl Johnson that my interest in captial punishment grew, and I felt so desperately sad for the poor, often severely intellectually disabled, young black men who ended up on death row. There really did seem one law for the white, rich people, and another for the poor black people. I was deeply angry. I dreamt of being a human right's lawyer.

However during my education I was told on several occasions I lacked the "killer instinct" for law of this type. And to be honest, it probably wasn't incorrect. But what is a shame I guess, is that law isn't all flying by the seat of your pants LA Law type court scenes. A lot of law is reading, research, interviewing, and donkey work. I am sure Clive Stafford Smith would agree himself that behind every articulate, brilliant lawyer, is a team of hard working, behind the scenes researchers and lawyers reading documents, interviewing witnesses, and studing rule of law. One of the problems was that at the time in Tasmania you had to qualify as a barrister and solicitor. And I was unwilling to move interstate.

I decided instead to embark on a career in industrial relations. I did work experience for the Tasmanian Office of Industrial Relations. I adored the Industrial Relations Commission, the hearings much more informal and concilliatory than a court.

Unfortunately, during my studies at university, the world turned on its axis. The new Liberal (equivalent to the Conservative or Republican governments in the UK and US) started dismantling the industrial relations system. Jobs became scarce. So I never achieved a career in this field, although I did spend some rewarding years in my caring job as a union representative, which I loved. And later on, when I myself had to go before a tribunal due to a work related incident, I represented myself, and won my case, against all odds.

 Now I have a job that I also always aspired to, that of a mum, and my job now, is to encourage Joseph in his hopes, dreams and aspirations. I can't wait to see what he wants to be, and how we as parents, can help him get there.

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