When I grow up

Deciding what you want to be when you grow up can be a daunting task. There are so many fascinating careers out there; doctor, poet, gardener, musician. How can anyone ever conclusively decide what they want to be? It’s not like choosing an outfit, or even an apartment, that you can change on a whim. It’s a choice that may affect whether or not you look back on your life with satisfaction, pride or even fondness. I think of both of my grandfathers who went to the same job with the same carpool for 30 years. They felt an obligation to support their family and their jobs, although not glamorous, seemed to make them happy enough. What do I want to do for the next 30 years? What about even the next 10? This summer maybe? I find it difficult to make an affirmative decision, though I am not a person who usually dodges a challenge or commitment.

It seems many of my generation feel the weight of this predicament. We grew up hearing from our parents and teachers that we could be anything and anyone we wanted to be, if only we worked hard enough. So we carry the curse of knowing that we can and should be something great and satisfying. It almost seems as though it would be easier to know all you were going to do was paint cars for the rest of your life. It would be your lot and you could make the most of it. You could paint those cars better than anyone. But the idea of unlimited potential and the sky’s the limit is almost too much to swallow. I feel this burden of actually living up to my potential.

I have this T-shirt that I’ve worn for years and that my husband finds adorable somehow. It has Margaret from Dennis the Menace boldly pronouncing,

“Someday, a woman will be president!”

I suppose it is that idea that I find overwhelming at times. I think of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman. Born of little and yet the way they lived changed the world. I aspire of this lofty goal and I think that what I finally choose to be when I grow up will be the opportunity for that change. Perhaps, someday, it will.

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