As I've mentioned before, I have four children. The oldest is starting college today. Her plan is to become a graphic artist. My second oldest graduates from high school this year, and he is thinking along the lines of a journalism career. My youngest two are about to begin second grade, and right now, they answer the above question with a variety of answers:
"I want to be a rock star!", "I want to be a fireman!", "I want to be a doctor!", and "I want to be a scientist!" are all the most recent lifetime goals for my seven year-old boys. However, no matter which answer they give me, it is always followed up with, "But I'll live with you forever!"
Ahh, isn't that sweet? Of course, they don't believe me when I tell them that their older sister and brother used to have the same sentiment, and that someday, they'll be looking forward to moving out of their parents' home, just as their older siblings are.
But the topic today isn't about what my kids want to be when they grow up, it's about what I wanted to be before I became a writer. I'm sure I had all sorts of interesting thoughts when I was as young as my boys are, but I only remember one of them: I wanted to be a figure skater.
Yes, really. This came from a girl who had never ice skated in her life, but that didn't stop me from dreaming big. Because, you know, the figure skaters on TV were so graceful and so beautiful, that I wanted to be just like them. Obviously, that young dream never came true--in fact, to this day, I have never worn a pair of ice skates!
Later in life, I gave up on my figure skating dream. Which, seeing as I am not, nor have I ever been, the most graceful of girls, is probably (no, definitely) for the best! Somewhere toward the end of elementary school, I decided I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. I kept on to this dream through most of high school, but somewhere along the way, gave that one up too, and instead, focused on marketing and business, but at the same time, the writer dream began.
And honestly, from the day that dream started, it's the one that has never left. Writing is my true calling. It's the one thing, besides my family and friends, that is a constant. It will always be a constant. And guess what? In my stories, I can be a figure skater, or a nurse, or anything else I dream up.
For my little boys who want to be a rock star scientist and a fire fighting doctor, I say more power to them. Because I believe that the real power of the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" is wrapped up in dreams.
Keep dreaming. If one dream ends, a new one will take its place, and you never know which one will come true.