Another Day, Another Blog

April 25, 2007

Retrospection is over-rated

Filed under: curiosities, the joy of life — iamza @ 7:00 am

In high school, the year before we had to pick our six subjects of interest, we were required to complete an aptitude test. I guess the test was supposed to highlight our interests and the potential careers we might choose — and thus enable the teachers to give us better guidance. All I really remember about the test is that it consisted of pages and pages of pretty much the same choices, over and over:

I would prefer to spend my time:

(a) Reading non-fiction

(b) Reading fiction

(c) Building a house

(d) Taking apart an engine

(e) Cooking

(f) Killing a computer

Tough choice! I mean, I love fiction, but “Oh, I read non-fiction all the time!” sounds much smarter. And then there’s killing a computer — my all-time favourite rage-release mechanism, but you can’t exactly stick that in the aptitude test…

 Teacher: “Mrs Za, we brought you in today because we’re a little worried about some of the answers on your daughter’s test yesterday.”

Mama Za: “Dagnabbit! What’s she done now?”

Teacher: “Well, she’s displaying this disturbing trend for the enjoyment of computer maltreatment. Truth be told, I’m afraid that if we don’t take immediate action, we may have the world’s first serial computer killer on our hands.”

The day after the test, our class was divided up, and taken into individual classrooms for a group “Let’s see what career you’ve won today!” session. At that point, I learned two interesting things:

(1) It is apparently possible to read too much fiction. More than 26 hours a week (or so I was informed after mentioning I was reading about 40 hours of fiction a week), and you’re edging into escapism territory. This is very bad because it means you and reality have unresolved issues that may lead to problems in your relationship down the line. Who knew?! And,

(2) If you play the aptitude test just right, it is possible to get “nothing” as your best potential career choice. 

Ultimately, the whole thing struck me as a bit of a time-waster. I mean, at fourteen, what I was most interested in was Morten Whatshisname of A-Ha, and Tom Cruise (before he lost his mind), and Anne MacCaffrey’s Pern. And somehow I couldn’t see myself getting a degree in any of these subjects.

Frankly, as long as I was allowed to drop history, I didn’t really care what other subjects I would have to take. And, as it turned out, I didn’t have much of a choice. Mama and Papa Za sat me down one evening, and told me I would be doing all the science subjects. “Science,” I thought, “Hm. Can’t be too different from science fiction. Might even be fun.” And that was that. 

Now, I’d love to be able to go back in time, and look over my fourteen-year-old self’s shoulder as I filled in the aptitude test. It’d be interesting to see which answers I’d pick the same, and which would be completely different. In the intervening years, have my interests really changed as much as I think they have? Am I a different person now from that fourteen-year-old self, or am I just older and–hopefully–wiser, but essentially unchanged?



  1. Computer-killing is underrated, I think. Also OMG Morten Harket! *g*

    I’d like to see what I answered in my career-finding survey once upon a time, too. Especially since I haven’t found my career yet – maybe I’d have some tips for me?
    Thinking about this makes me wish that I could keep a diary consistently, so that I could see what younger me was like.

    Comment by Sonja — April 26, 2007 @ 7:01 am

  2. Harket! Thank you! It’s been sitting on the tip of my tongue since yesterday, bugging me, and I was too lazy to google. :-)

    I tried keeping a diary as a kid. I got given one as a birthday present; it had this fancy jade green cover with a gold lock on the front. It looked so smart that I was terrified to write in it in case I messed up on my spelling, or wrote a sentence down wrong, or something, because then I’d have had to scratch things out and the diary would have been totally ruined.

    Stupid, really, but it’s partly why I much prefer writing on a computer. You can type things, and correct them later, and the screen doesn’t end up with ugly scrawl marks all over the place. Also, no matter what your rush, typed writing is ALWAYS legible. :-)

    (Strangely, I have very strong memories of what I wanted to be when I grew up, back when I was eleven: the first woman on the moon! Then I got glasses, and that dream was totally crushed. It was a very sad year… *g*)

    Comment by iamza — April 26, 2007 @ 3:20 pm

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