Not quite the same, but I was going to work with kids in my early 20s. I did for a bit: volunteered full time at a cerebral palsy center for a solid year. Loved it. They offered me a job. I was so excited. But, I didn’t take the deadlines for medical checkup and stuff seriously enough. I figured there was leeway.
Nope. No leeway. I had plenty of time to do everything and didn’t, and on the deadline date, I was missing 1/2 of what I needed to give them. Got called in, and that was that. *and* I couldn’t go back to volunteering because of the possibility of retribution. It was a law – Believe it or not, that’s an issue: if someone gets fired they can cause problems, and being a delicate population, the laws are justifiably very cautious in that area, so I couldn’t blame them.
I was heartbroken for days and kicking myself. Some of the parents asked me to work with their kids on the weekends and stuff but I just couldn’t even think about that. I was too emotional to think straight.
After getting over the sadness of it, I thought about other careers but then I looked down at my hand. No wedding ring. No picture of a girlfriend in my wallet to show people. At that time I was inbetween dating, idealistic about “saving the world” in my own fashion and didn’t want the relationship turmoil.
I though, ‘How does this appear? Single white male in his early 20s, wants to work with children”.
Shit. I knew I’d have to fight against skeptical eyes, murmurs and whispers, little comments and such. Not from all or most, because most people aren’t judgemental. But, a few ALWAYS are – and the fear of those few made me decide to scrap the idea altogether and pursue other work.
I don’t regret it, not really. It’s the kind of work I could pursue at any point in life. I had other skills, more profitable, less idealistic, and I pursued those instead.
But I felt bad for those who were all idealistic with good hearts and no fall back.
I didn’t fear conforming to all the stereotypical fears: I’m not that way. But I feared matching _some_ of the characteristics, enough for people to jump to conclusions. Wasn’t worth the strain.
It can be an uphill battle when you don’t conform to stereotypes and people desperately expect you to. Sometimes the battle isn’t worth it.