Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 23rd birthday. I love my birthday because it is the one day of the year that is important because of me and only me. All the other holidays have to be shared with Santa or America or a leprechaun. Even my wedding day I had to share with my husband. But my birthday is all about me, so it is the best day of the year.

The funny thing though, is regardless of how much I personally love my birthday, as I get older it gets smaller and smaller. Which isn't a bad thing. It is just different. When I was younger I would take the circular for Toys R Us and write down basically everything in it on my birthday list, with the hope that some nice person would buy me all those things. This year I ordered a bunch of books on Amazon and opened them long before my actual birthday. When I turned six, my parents threw me a princess sleep over party and all my friends came over and we dressed up in princess costumes, got really hyper on cake, and then passed out in my living room. This year, I met up with a few of my friends for dinner and we laughed and ate corn chowder and then went home.

The point I'm trying to make is not that my birthday is lame now, but rather that my interests are so different from when I was six. Now obviously that is part of growing up, our likes and dislikes morph into distant reflections of what they once were. Although I still love princesses, I would rather have an intimate dinner with my friends for my birthday than plan any sort of party where people spend over 24 hours at my house. Which got me thinking, what other kinds of things in my life have changed as I have grown older and different from my six year old self.

And the main one I could think of is the answer to the age old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

I'm not entirely sure what I wanted to be when I was really little. Probably something to do with flowers or plants. I used to draw roses on everything. Like in kindergarten when I had to decorate a paper ark with all the things I would put on it in case of a flood, I drew: 1. Myself, 2. A bunch of roses. Forget my family or pets or food. Just me and a beautiful bouquet. Then in elementary school, I wanted to be blonde. Whenever we had to do self portraits I drew myself with chin length, curly blonde hair. I also wanted to own a restaurant in my house. Meaning that I would cook food in my kitchen and my kitchen window would serve as a drive through for all my customers. I also wanted to be a teacher. I would play school with my stuffed animals and baby dolls all the time, including creating lesson plans and giving them tests.

As is going to be the case with all these career paths, I am uncertain as to when being a blonde restauranteur/teacher with a lot of flowers was no longer my dream. But by the sixth grade I wanted to be an interior decorator. And I wanted to save up all my money and spend it on a "makeover for my room." Or a laptop. I think I stuck to that choice pretty hard until late middle school when I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. And I wanted to be a lawyer for a long time. So I could get paid to argue with people.

That phase lasted until about my junior year in high school when I decided I wanted to be a house flipper. I would go to Home Depot and walk the aisles, seeing what new tiles and hardware I could use for my brand new fixed up house. I am pretty sure this career no longer exists given the current housing market, so its probably good that dream was short lived. Because by my senior year I wanted to be a journalist. Then I wanted to be a band manager. Then I wanted to be an environmentalist. Then I wanted to be an event planner. And now, I kind of want to be a journalist/event planner/world traveler.

I bet if you think back to what you wanted to be when you were little, like me, you will laugh. But at the same time you will feel a little nostalgia for the paths that could have been. I would have hated being a lawyer. I didn't even want to go to grad school, so I can't imagine I would have made it through law school. But if I had, I bet I would have been pretty good at it. And that house flipping thing is still on the table for when the housing market picks up and I have a lot of spare cash laying around that I can use to buy dilapidated old homes in up and coming neighborhoods.

Which I suppose is probably the moral of this post. Just because we have completely different interests now, doesn't mean we are completely different people. Just because we have birthdays and grow one year older, doesn't mean that we aren't young at heart. We can do anything we want to do, and we can be anything we want to be. I think you keep growing up until you die. So there is always time to become what you want to be when you grow up. And always time to figure out what that is.

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