You know those folks who just knew before they even left elementary school what they wanted to do with their lives? Or those kids in high school who had already declared majors that are absurdly specific, like bioelectrical engineering with a concentration in deep space nine applications, and when asked what they wanted to do with it they’d say, “I plan to expound upon Richard Hawking’s work and become the human version of Spock?” Except unlike me they actually know what those jobs are, how to become them, and probably had a draft thesis statement laying around for their future PhD by the age of 18.
I suppose theoretically by the time you got to college and declared a major you had some semblance of an idea of what you wanted to do with your life. Of course, there were also those students who went straight into business or marketing, which even five years after undergrad still blows my mind. How do you know you want to do business? Do you know what kind? Is it just a, “Yes, I’d like to work for a business, ergo I must get a business degree?” As a pure humanities kid, the sheer practicality of this blew, blows, and will forever blow my mind. I, despite working for a business, still have no idea what the hell that would entail. But I digress. So what happens if you graduate and still have no clue what to do with said degree you’ve completed? Do you even know the types of jobs to search for? What kind you’d even be interested in?
What do you do if you have absolutely no idea what you want to be when you grow up and you are in fact already grown up?
For me, it was simple. I never knew what I wanted to do except avoid working in a cubicle at all costs (Spoiler alert: I’ve failed at that—three years in a cube farm) and that I would never be very good with a chain of command. And I knew this by the age of 7. You see, around that same age I discovered my passion and true talents in life: bossing people around. I’m really good at telling people what to do, how to do it, and assuming everyone else around me is stupid. It’s always been my destiny really, as most older family members’ memories of me as a child involved me standing on something to be taller, putting my hands on my hips, and squinting my eyes, jutting out my chin and telling them how to do something. Precocious was the term they used.
I preferred dictator.
You see for lack of a better alternative, I decided I wanted to be dictator of the world when I was a kid. Perhaps my grandfather is to blame, as while some grandkids are regaled with life lessons, mine sat me down and started most conversations with, “People are assholes, and when I’m King of the World… [insert something about dogs].” And I thought, “Yes, this is an excellent idea, but monarchs fall and being the first female president is for chumps. Who wants to rely on bureaucracy? I’ll get shit done. I’ll be a dictator.” Besides, redheads are crap at democracy, just ask Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, and Andrew Jackson.
My future profession chosen, I began reading war books in high school. Over lunch I divvied up countries amongst my friends, well aware that I’d need regents in each area to see to my interests. There were in fact legitimate arguments over who got what and feelings hurt over being too weak to handle the job. They knew I meant business. They played Risk with me and this was no laughing matter.
When college came around I fell into studying political theory (Hobbes, Machiavelli, Clausewitz, etc) and concentrated my international relations degree on war and diplomacy specifically. A good dictator needs to learn from those who failed before them. Who starts world domination with the Rheinland? And how has no one gotten the message that Russian winters are cold and letting a superpower sneak up behind you is always asking for doom? There were also lessons in human nature: I’ll take hellish, brutish, and short-for-$200 Alex and a heavy dose of fear over love, please. Focused as I was on analyzing power—who had it, how they got it, and how they lost it over the past few hundred years—I admittedly didn’t bother with practical things like hirable skills. That’s why one has minions for building things like Excel budget sheets; and let’s be honest, there are no PowerPoint presentations in the war room.
So imagine my surprise when graduation passed and instead of an army, minions, or even a nice base of operations on a secret island in which I could plot world domination, I got a savings bond. Searching for openings on The Washington Post Jobs under “dictator” also yielded few results. Which come on, there had to be an opening somewhere, or do they just post those on obscure Reddit threads? Should I post my flawless strategy for taking over the known world on Craigslist and see if any countries want to interview me? Although what does one wear to a dictatorship interview? Are blood red lips too much? Black leather? Should I ride a bear into the meeting or do I need to acquire dragons first? Do I overthrow my interviewer to show I mean business? So many questions, so few job opportunities—damn democracy, the recession, and my lack of space for an adequate war room.
Shockingly I was forced to get a plebeian job that didn’t require me to dictate every aspect of the whole world, and did not in fact come with minions, tanks, or my own bear. My disappointment to this day knows no bounds, but I’ve come to the realization I’m still young, I can play the long game. So I’m not going to make the “Greatest Conquerers Under 30 List” and most of my days are spent being bossed around by my dogs instead of writing my super-awesome world anthem. Maybe I won’t take over the whole world, or even my own house, but I can still be bossy and dictatorial. I can compromise with people who have great ideas and then pretend they worked because of my own superior judgement for agreeing with them. I can make a suggestion and have some bastardized version become policy at work. I can make my email address [email protected] and demand my writers fill up the calendar and watch it happen. My countless Machiavelli quotes and GIFs of the Irone Throne will bend them all to my will.
Fear me they shall, and a dictator in my own mind I will be.