The Mystery of a Career Choice

Post Date: June 3rd, 2014


My daughter graduated two weeks ago with her second undergraduate degree. Her first was from the University of Maryland in political science, with an eye toward law. She was accepted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

She decided that nursing had more immediate opportunities to help others than the law did.

Accordingly, her second degree was from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in nursing. She graduated summa cum laude and was accepted into the nursing honor society. She is now job hunting with ardent hopes for success soon.

Had she followed her initial plan, she would have traveled the same path her father took. As it is, she is walking a career path I initially took.

Which has gotten me to thinking about how she came to do that. People comment that she is walking in my footsteps. But I can’t remember ever talking about a career in nursing (or in law). I graduated law school before giving birth to her, so she has never known me in my nursing career.

Then again, maybe she has. I kept nursing close to me in my legal career. I often spoke to nurses about the law, traveling to 25 states and Canada to do so well into my fifties, when she was a teenager.

Once a nurse, always a nurse. My care for her when she was ill was informed not only by motherhood but by pediatric nursing. My compassionate listening and advice, especially in her teenage years, were the result of being a good mother as well as my psychotherapeutic training in mental health nursing (which, interestingly, is the area of her professional passion). So maybe I modeled nursing for her.

And yet this does not explain it. She is who she is in part because of her parents but in larger measure because of who she came into this world as. We were stewards of this person who was born to us with her own temperament and unique genetic mix. She influenced our parenting. She affected us and we affected her.

Which has led me to ponder the mystery of “the other.” I wonder whether we can ever really know another person. Each one has a history that we haven’t experienced from her perspective, as well as impulses that reach up from a deep, unique inner self. Although I have lived with my daughter for 25 of her 28 years, I don’t fully know her.

Too, it is early in her adult life, and her own self-knowledge will be enriched with years of living and learning from experiences. I look forward to those years and to appreciating the process of her unfoldment. She already is such an interesting person – has been since she was a little tot. Without discounting the wonder of her these many years, I believe the best is yet to come.