I hate this question in job interviews, not only because it's cliche, but also because it's a bullshit question. First of all, if I'm interviewing for a position, I obviously don't work there yet, do I, dipshit? How the hell am I supposed to know where I want to be in five years in relation to your company? I might hate the place two days after I start. "Well sir, I would like to be running the company, with 10 weeks paid vacation, a corner office, and a liquor cabinet near my desk like Don Draper, only I'm never wearing a suit"
It's so dishonest. Really, if we're strictly talking about where I wanted to be in five years in relation to the company I'm interviewing for, it would basically be that I want to still be working here, and not wanting to rip my hair out every single day. I want a decent amount of vacation time, a salary I think is fair, and to not feel like the entire company's business rests on my shoulders when someone's printer goes down, let alone when I want to take a half day.
Let me talk about where I want to be in five years in general, from this very point in time. I've done a ton of reflecting on this, and it hasn't only been since Megan died. We had talked about it for a few years, albeit not too seriously, but she knew that deep in my heart, it's what I really wanted, not just for me, but for us.
A little background is in order. I'm an IT systems engineer by trade. I make a very good salary. I get paid vacation, sick days, and at my current employer, a private office. I have good health insurance, no job security issues, and generally, the day to day tasks I'm faced with are very easily handled. I've been doing this for 17 years now.
I don't want it anymore. It is NOT interesting or challenging or in any way enjoyable. Its a goddamned paycheck is what it is. For what? So I can have three cars and eat steak instead of hot dogs? Yes, I have another person to feed, clothe, and shelter with Shelby. You know what? She likes hot dogs and reading books. She's just fine being entertained by an old smartphone with no service plan and wathcing netflix on the shattered screen.
We (including Megan) are not materialistic. I worked so we had health insurance to keep Megan alive as long as she did. She knew I was miserable, but it was a reality that I needed to pursue this career to keep her healthy. I have the money, so I buy shit, simple as that.
So where would I like to be in five years? Someplace else, geographically, mentally, and financially. I'll keep working in IT as long as I need to in order to reach that goal. I'll pay off whatever debt we have, ensure we're stable, sell some things, and start a new life for both of us, on my own terms. I'm older and wiser now than when I was 17 and shipping off to boot camp. I can decipher the things I need versus the things I simply want.
What I need is for Shelby to be smart, happy, well adjusted, and ready to be her own woman and make her own decisions when she grows up. I have no doubt she will achieve that goal I've set for her in whatever way her amazing little brain and heart decides. I'm going to make sure that little girl grows up to rule the goddamned world.
What I want is for that to occur, but to finally be doing what I really desire, which is wandering the wilds. There are ways to do this, and even to still monetize it. Something I've always wanted is to be a wilderness guide. NOLS offers these courses, allowing me to become certified to do just that. In five years, if I play my cards right, I could be wandering the Rockies or Appalachians, taking people with me, and teaching them all about the wonders of these places and how to appreciate them. Yes, I already have the background experience. I'm self taught. Now I have the means to make it official by taking a course. Yes, it sounds all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but hell, I do this stuff for free now.
Talk about a life change. Honestly, I've been keeping up with the Jonses for so long, over half of my life, that I don't even know exactly how to roadmap something like this. What I do know, is that when I was 8 or 9 years old, I would pour over trail guides and maps of wherever we would be taking a family vacation, and I would plan the entire day out and know the ins-and-outs of every single trail or overlook we would be passing. I could tell you exactly what species of maple tree you were looking at, even in winter. I could forage for ramps, berries, watercress, and any other multitude of edible plant. (I still make dendelion salds from the weeds in my front yard from time to time) I've wanted to guide people into the woods for that long. I could pack my bags in about 15 minutes, drive to Dolly Sods in West Virginia, and get someone to any single point in that federal wilderness without so much as a glance at a map. I want to do that for people.
I want to be a modern day Mors Kochanski, John Muir, Ansel Adams, and Henry David Thoreau all rolled into one. I want to be the person, as an adult, that can shepherd a group of unassuming "city folk" into the back of beyond, and show them why these places are so special. I want to make sure that that 8 year old me, pouring over trail guides, learning how to use a compass, reading books upon books about the wilderness and how to survive and thrive in it is brought out in people of any age. I want to write about it for those that aren't there, in those spaces, and make them want be there with simple words.
I don't care about money, fame, or fortune. I really don't. I care about Shelby. We don't need a little house with a white picket fence, two dogs, three cars, and cable TV to be healthy, smart, and happy. She already has that same love for nature and learning about it that I did when I was 8 years old. She grabs a map at every trailhead we go to. She reads books about wildflowers, insects, trees, and mountains. She can sit, starry-eyed, and just flip through a photo book of the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, and can tell you all about the various landmarks at a glance, without ever having been there. She is my doppelganger.
So, where do I want to be in five years? I want to be shepherding people like Shelby, regardless of their age, over the river and through the woods to what could be their own calling or love. If people pay me to do that, all the better. I think I've finally come to the realization though, that through all this time, it's the one "job" that no one would ever have to pay me to do.