When I was starting grade 8, the three girls I hung out with decided to join the Air Cadets. The father of the girl who lived next door to me was staring an Air Cadet Squadron with work colleagues across the city of Ottawa in Kanata. He told his daughter she had to join, she recruited the other two, and they tried peer pressuring me into joining too. Quite frankly, my immediate reaction was, “I don’t want to be a dweeb or nerd and join the Air Cadets!”
I stormed into our family home, walking right past the front hall closet, filled with my dad’s dress uniforms. That night during dinner, I complained about my friends trying to peer pressure me into doing something I didn’t want to do. Like most adolescents I was completely oblivious to how my parents might feel about what I was saying. I knew, but hadn’t thought about how they had met and married while serving in the Air Force, and that my dad was still serving in the military.
My father was remarkedly patient, and asked to talk to me more about the Air Cadets after dinner. I vividly recall sitting in our Ottawa home, at the table that still graces my parents dining room (albeit it in a different home) talking with my dad. He shared that he’d been an Army Cadet, where he’d learned lots of fun things. He told me that he’d always wanted to be a pilot, and suggested that I could learn how to be a pilot in the Air Cadets. Then he made his closing argument, “Why don’t you try it? If you don’t like it you can always quit.”
What I didn’t realize until much later, as an adult, is that my parents were concerned that I was too quiet, that I spent too much time reading books, and not enough time interacting with other people. They saw the Air Cadets as a chance for me to learn to come out of my shell. Which is funny, because I never felt like I was living in a shell. I was quite content to experience the world through books.
My first year in the Air Cadets was a fabulous experience. I’d joined a brand-new squadron, with a fifty-fifty split between male and female cadets. Only a handful of experienced cadets had transferred in from established Squadrons. It was a learning experience for all of us. The officers and instructors were great and I thrived in the routine and structure.
After attending my first summer camp as an Air Cadet, where I learned archery, enjoyed canoeing, and met more interesting and engaging people, I knew what I wanted to do for my first career. I decided to become an officer in the Canadian military.
What followed was my first series of ideal jobs, attending military college, several postings, and eventual early “retirement” at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. I can honestly say I enjoyed at least 98 percent of my first career.
My military career also laid the foundation for the adventures of entrepreneurship, but that’s a story for a different day.
The main point of this blog, is that the things you enjoyed as a youth, may very well hold the key to discovering your ideal job!