When I Grow Up

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s a question we ask children almost as soon as they learn to speak. What type of life do they want to have after they’ve become grown-ups? Little voices usually pipe up with answers of “fireman” or “a princess” having no idea what it would take to actually get to those positions in life. As for little me, I thought I chose a more practical career path than dreams of royalty or putting out fires.

Me? I wanted to be a singer.

In my elementary computer class, in an attempt to teach nine and ten year olds to learn how to research topics using the growing wealth of information on the world wide web, my class was given the task of choosing a dream career and researching just what it would take to be successful in that job. Having only been on the planet for about a decade, I informed my teacher of my dream job as matter-of-factly as I could.

“I want to be a professional famous singer,” I said, as if it was as easy as becoming a doctor or a lawyer.

The look of disbelief on the teacher’s face is one I will never forget in a lifetime.

“Are you sure?” I remember my teacher asking me, trying to gently push me towards careers of a more practical nature. Becoming a famous singer is a dream only few could ever make a reality. Still, I persisted and began my research on a job with one of the slimmest margins of success. Even with the information I found on the limited information of the 2000s era internet, I thought the improbable could be possible.

I wanted to be a star when I grew up.

My dreams of stardom began to fade as I got a little older, but the question of what I wanted my life to be when I reached adulthood still lingered in the air as I walked the halls of higher education. The “when you grow up” question follows children into high school as the expectation of college looms closely ahead of them and pushes the students to question what their lives will be like when they leave the halls of high school. While the exact wording of that question may have changed, the message is all too familiar.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

If you follow the college path, you hear another version of the question?

What’s your major? Translation: what’s your career path?

In college, I retained that childhood dream of musical success and attempted to follow the musical career path of music therapy. I wanted to help people with the power of my beloved music.

Note: Do not try to follow a college major or career path without actually looking up what the job entails.

So, after failing Human Physiology (therapy required me to know the human body, who knew?), I rearranged my life to better suit my more natural skill set and interests.

I love books, so I ended up as an English major. Twice.  I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a Minor in Linguistics as an undergraduate student and earned a Master’s degree in Non-Fiction writing.  They tell me English majors can fit into almost any career path, but I don’t know what I should be doing with my degrees. Somedays, I want to work as an editor and help create great works of literature in the publishing industry. Sometimes, I want to be the one writing those works. Occasionally, I’d love to use my literary skills in any industry that will take me.

I just don’t know what I want to do with my life.

I’m still not sure what I want to I want to be when I grow up, and I’m twenty-six. I’ve grown up since that first computer class, but I wouldn’t say I am grown up. There are still moments that I look at the world with childish idealism and dream impossible hopes. Maybe, I’m not supposed to know exactly where I’m going. We limit ourselves when we set specific goals. It’s the journey more than the destination as they day.

I still would like to be a famous singer, though.


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