Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
It’s refreshing to ask a child, “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” She will respond quickly and confidently.
A soccer player.
Kids slip easily into who they want to be. They play make-believe in the backyard, flying like superheroes on the trampoline, singing like Beyoncé with the Wii microphone, and shooting phantom World Cup winning goals like Mia Hamm.
They are sure.
My guess is that some of these children maintain this unshakeable sense of why they are here on earth. They know who they want to be and they gracefully execute their intent as they enter adulthood.
I was not one of these kids.
It’s been a long road trying to figure out who I want to be.
As a teenager I dreamed of being a model.
I was delusional—I am 5’3”.
Nevertheless, I headed to New York City to attend college and to try to make a go of it. I had mild success, booking ads for Runners’ World magazine, Coca Cola, Teen Magazine, and some others. I soon realized I was chasing the impossible. Plus, I was sick of constant snubs. “Your butt is too big!” “Your hair is too thin!” “Your eye color isn’t right!”
Time for Plan B.
Lots of short girls are actors, right?
I acquired a hot-shot talent manager and hit the pavement, going on audition after audition. (Again, I had some success. I landed a part as a day player on the soap Another World and screen-tested for a major role on As The World Turns.)
But then wham-bam-thank-you-mam, I fell in love and moved to Texas to marry my sweetheart.
Maybe I wanted to see the world.
Sure, that was it. I’d be an international flight attendant. But the airline I worked for went out of business and stranded a crew in South Africa.
Then I decided I’d get my PhD in English.
What, I need two foreign languages?
Maybe I’ll be a cosmetic executive. Clinique Cosmetics was a fine company, but I hated working for someone else.
Settled. I’ll sell houses.
Fifteen years and 500 houses later, I was still asking myself, “Who do I want to be when I grow up?”
And then a friend self-published a book.
Hmm. That was interesting. Something sparked inside of me.
I sat down and started writing.
The muse whispered:
Molly lay splayed facedown, her arm twisted behind her back, sharp pain searing through her right shoulder. Chilly rain stung her cheek and blurred her vision. Her hair stuck to her neck matted with bits of glass, dirt, and blood.
Holy cow! Where did that come from?
But I kept writing. And writing.
Now five years later I have an MFA in Creative Writing, a completed novel, the start of my second novel, an agent who is trying to sell the darn thing to a real publishing house, this blog, and pieces that are getting syndicated (oh, and I’m still selling those houses!).
Yes, that is who I want to be. It just took me a long time to figure it out.
I am frantically trying to play catch up. In moments of doubt, I think I’ve gone off my rocker.
I’m too late.
I’m too old.
Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. Who am I kidding?
But something pretty neat has happened and it’s given me a bit of confidence to charge ahead. As I’ve spilled my guts all over the page, other women have begun whispering their hopes and dreams to me.
I took up horse-backing riding.
I’m becoming a Vegan cook.
I’ve decided to pursue my PhD.
I’m starting an online magazine.
When another woman shares a piece of who she wants to be with me, my heart lifts.
We’re not crazy.
We’re making this life count, being true to ourselves. We are growing into who we are meant to be. We are alive and living. Often times, I get so excited I fear one life might not be enough time to do all the writing I want to do.
I finally know who I want to be.
Who do you want to be?
Whatever it is, I’ve got your back. And I bet a lot of other women do as well.
Let’s not be afraid to tell each other.
Author: Heather Christie
Apprentice Editor: Melanie Jackson; Editor: Sara Kärpänen