Did you grow up to be who you wanted to be?
From a very early age I dreamed of being a writer. However, it’s not the only career I’ve ever considered. Like most kids, I wanted to do and be all kinds of things when I grew up.
As a young child, I absolutely loved watching roller derby on television. I had no idea what the rules were or what was going on, but I thought those women were the definition of cool. I fantasized about becoming a high flying jammer on the derby track.
When I grew a little older, my love for animals had me considering the life of a veterinarian. I read all of the James Herriot novels which detailed the rugged life of a country vet in Yorkshire during the 1930’s. I pictured myself stomping through grassy meadows in knee high boots, tending to lambs and horses. After providing their livestock with expert care, happy English farmers would offer me tea and biscuits.
Those weren’t my only dreams. I have wanted to be, during various stages of my childhood, a dental hygienist, an archaeologist, a politician, an artist, a rock star, and a dog groomer. But through it all, I wrote and wrote and wrote.
I wrote poems, stories, and outlines for novels. I filled up notebook after notebook with journal entries both manic and melancholy. By the time I reached tenth grade, the desire to write replaced all my previous career aspirations.
Around this same time, the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?” stopped being conversational filler, and started being an earnest query from every adult I met. Suddenly everyone wanted me to have a concrete career goal picked out.
Doesn’t this seem to be an unreasonable request for your typical fifteen year old? Current brain research suggests that the human brain isn’t done developing until age twenty-five. Accordingly, your average high school sophomore might not have the best foresight when it comes to choosing a life path.
No worries, though. I knew what I wanted to do.
I wanted to write.
Over the years, I have worked at all kinds of paying jobs. I worked in retail, food service, and child care. I taught elementary school for nine years. I worked as a case worker for at risk families. I have been a secretary and a security guard. I painted pottery, sold expensive jewelry and managed a portrait studio. Some of these jobs I loved, and others I hated.
Oddly, however, I never fulfilled any of my childhood dreams. I never joined a derby team or worked with animals. I have never been on an archaeology dig or played drums in an edgy rock band. I haven’t run for office, and I never filled a canvas with a beautiful work of art.
Most surprising of all, I never became a published writer.
This can only mean one thing.
I haven’t grown up yet.