Earliest I can remember, it was dolphin trainer. After that came veterinarian, followed by a long stint of actress, dancer, singer, or all of the above. In junior high, I was going to be a writer. In high school, it was teacher, then director, then theatrical or cinematic set designer. I entered college and studied theatre with vague ideas about teaching community college one day, or directing high school shows, or then maybe teaching English instead. Then I was going to open a boutique, or work in marketing, or excel in sales, or possibly go to beauty school… or maybe I’ll be a midwife, or open an Etsy store, or blog for a living…
Here I am, nearly on the cusp of my 28th and 29th year, essentially jobless and still with no solid answer to this one big question. What do I want to be when I grow up? What color is my parachute? At what point is one considered a grown up, anyway? If my lifelong career is my parachute, when exactly do they throw me out of the plane?
I’ve squeaked by thus far by working an assortment of odd jobs, with a decent amount of flair and tons of initial enthusiasm, and quipping that I was “an aspiring housewife” whenever anyone posed the big question. Wouldn’t you know it, here I am: housewife. Which is fantastic. However, as my housewife status will be eversomuch more important when there are little people to raise in this house, it makes sense that I should be pursuing something that might actually contribute to our financial future in the interim. Wouldn’t you know it, it turns out the pay for housewives is completely bogus.
Tragically, though, so is the pay for writers. Or knitters with Etsy stores, unless you’re the particularly brilliant sort. There’s a remarkable lack of funding available for freelance crafty persons, and enough creative marketing idea folks swarming about to effectively stomp any hope of snagging a client. It takes many up-front invested dollars to open cute boutiques or cozy yarn stores, and mad web skills to design successful new social empires. They prefer midwives to have nursing degrees (the nerve!) and hairstylists to shell out the bucks for 18 weeks of scissor bootcamp (apparently YouTube videos don’t count for much) and no one seems to want to pay me to decorate my house.
I find myself wishing I’d been the sort who loved math, or learned graphic design before everyone else did, or simply had a plan and stuck with it. But I’m not that girl. So, here I am, in my familiar little worn-in patch of square one, waiting for the next good bandwagon to jump on, hoping that maybe, just maybe, this one will be the ride of my life.
I will say this: as frustrated as I often am with myself, there is something lovely in the not knowing. I suppose I could still grow up to be just about anything, really. And, really, so could you.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Photo by the incomparable Shannon Hannon