I have wanted to be a lot of different things when I grow up. When I was ten and fifteen, I wanted to go to NYU and starve and write the great American novel. I covered every inch of my fourteen year old walls with pictures of supermodels, old dewey decimal indexes, and sharpie memorandums of my favorite literary excerpts. When I was sixteen and eighteen, I wanted to be a heart surgeon, largely because I liked the figurative idea of holding people's hearts in my hands rather than the actual biological science behind it. When I was six, I wanted to be a cashier because I liked the way their nails clicked on keys and their gum smacked around with such sass. At some point, I wanted to be the next American Idol and Tinker Bell and a mermaid and a lawyer and and a scientist and a professor and in Africa and an activist and a photographer and Hermione Granger and Jackie O and Marilyn Monroe and a missionary and a Rockette and a campaign manager and an artist and a badass. I've wanted to write for National Geographic and bartend on desert islands and teach English to impoverished children and be the woman who rides elephants in the circus.
The problem with all of these strange, varied aspirations is that, as time went on, they didn't replace each other, they only piled up on top of each other, like a technicolor mountain of stacking crates that weren't designed to sit on top of one another. I'm always positive of what I want to do with my life, until I'm not positive. I'm always certain I've got it all figured out, until I realize I have no idea what the hell is going on. Before I went to college, I knew. Then I finished two semesters, full of variety and science and feminism, and I no longer had any sort of idea. It's the kind of uncertainty that makes you feel alive but also makes you feel as though you are going to asphyxiate and die at any second; it's a balance. I talk to people and they ask me what I want to do with my life and I try to never say the same thing twice. People ask me what I'm majoring in and I say Chemistry and English and then there is this look that follows, and I say, yes, I'm minoring in Crystal Meth. But if you understood how cool it is to be able to write an analysis of Gloria Naylor's writing one hour and titrate acids and bases the next, you'd do it too. Some people think they know exactly what I should be when I grow up, some people think I should be writing books, some people think I am a fuck, some people say do this and do that and then you'll know. But, the truth is, some people and some other people aren't going to figure it out, I have to figure it out.
Most of the time I pray, not usually for patience or perseverance or time, but for a big glaring road sign that smacks me in the face with the most obvious of career choices. Preferably one in which I get to write and do experiments and research and work with less fortunate women and children and advocate for them and make enough money to feed anyone who needs my help being fed/buy Lululemon clothes for funzies and get to drink a lot of coffee and wear khaki pants and argue with misogynist dickheads (cus that's my favorite) and get to be one of those women that they shuttle to small female children for show and tell. I ask everyone what they major in and what they want to be when they grow up in the hope that someone will have already figured out what I should do, but largely its people doing things I don't want to do or people being equally as confused as I am. Sometimes I feel like Hermione with the damn hourglass. I know, I'm going to do a lot of different things with my life. I know, I'm going to figure it all out eventually. I know, I know, I know.
The truth is, there are a lot of corners to this round, round world and a lot of cracks that need sealed and a lot of messes that need cleaned up. For everyone there is a place and a time and a perfectly carved niche. Carrie Bradshaw asked if it was possible to miss your own fate, to get all caught up in the ifs, ands, or buts, and find yourself five stops past the stop you were supposed to get off. But I've missed a lot of bus stops, I've gotten on quite a few of the wrong buses and stayed on long after I should have gotten off, and yet, I'm still quite sure that right here, at this moment, I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. And all of the bumps and bruises and indecision and fear and failures are what got me to this place. I am a romantic and I do believe in fate and destiny but I also believe in hard work and blood and sweat and tears and scraped up knees and elbows. I believe that glass ceilings exist, but I'm really good at breaking glass, just ask anyone who knows about my relationship with mirrors. I believe that there are a lot of people out there who don't necessarily want women to be successful, but I believe there are even more who want to help us as much as they can. Some people know exactly what they want to be, and they have known all along. Some people have no idea, and they are not stressed out about it at all. These people are my heroes.
Someone at the daycamp said to me the other day, "Well don't you want to be a teacher?" No...no, I most certainly don't want to be a teacher. So there's that.
What do you want to be when I grow up?