I had a co-worker ask this week what a group of us wanted to be “when we grew up.” In other words, what was that thing that we used to dream about optimistically before reality found a way to charge for dreams, I have been everything I have wanted to be – minus happy.
When I was in kindergarten, we were supposed to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up. At the age of 4, I knew I was unable to draw what a veterinarian does – already admitting to my sub-par art skills, and instead drew a rock and a star said I wanted to be a rock star. Even at that age, I was quite literal and snarky to pseudo-authority figures. I later realized I couldn’t be a vet: I could never put down an animal. I’d be more upset than it’s owners.
When I was in high school, I fell in love with a boy. I was sure he was too smart for me so I would have to be as smart and arty as I could possibly muster in order to garnish any attention from him. I decided I would want to be a writer. I never did garnish his attention but kissed him a year later when we were actually friends and dating other people. I did become a writer – at least in the paying capacity. But freelance writing is hard no matter how many clients one has and I couldn’t maintain it.
Later in high school, I fell in love with another boy and decided I would be a concert photographer. Perhaps my biggest life regret is never doing anything about either of those things when it was a possibility. After college, I was able to become a concert photographer but without the boy, it lost the appeal.
When one graduates college with any part of a degree in Philosophy, no one knows what they want to be. I was never happier in many ways than in college where all I had to do to be successful was read and write and think critically and apply concepts. For some reason, no one advertises for existentialists anymore. I knew the music industry was always something of a draw and fell into an internship. It just so happened to be in the field marketing department. At the same time, I fell into a freelance writing role that just happened to start talking about this thing where you can write a certain way to make these non-real spider bots find what you wrote. A few years later after I moved from and then back to NYC, we eliminated most of the roles in my department and, well, someone had to take on this ‘paid search’ thing so I happened across it.
All of that is lovely, I’m sure. But…at the root of it….none of it was wanted. It was just what I got. I literally could have been a romantic comedy at the age of 5: all I ever wanted was to fall in love where nothing else mattered. The rest didn’t matter; what paid the bills paid the bills.
25 years or so after proclaiming I wanted to be a “rock star,” I’m sitting in my bedroom. I have had an absolutely cruddy day. There’s some knitting I want to do, some coffee I really should drink and some work stuff I’m trying to keep myself from doing. All I can think about, instead, is how much better the world looks when you’re 5.
And how much I wish I still was there…