Remember when we were six years old and the teacher would ask the class what we were going to be when we grew up?
The majority were going to have secure, mostly public service jobs. “I’m going to be a teacher/doctor/Garda” they’d announce, with a sure smile, as they dropped their colouring pencils to think of the nice pension plan that lay ahead in sixty years time.
Next, there would be a solid show of hands for fireman, singer, ballerina and vet.
Then, came the two dreamers. One would be sitting at the front of the class, shouting about how they were going to be “The President of The United States”, even though we were in a small school in a rural town in Ireland.
The other, was me.
“I am going to be a mother, or a writer… Or both” I would say, my cheeks burning as 24 pairs of eyes would turn towards me and my unpopular dream.
(Can you spot the aspiring writer?)
The other day, I had a reflective hungover moment at The Yellow Thing on campus, where I realised I only have half a semester of college left – and my answer is still the same. Eighteen years of education, and I haven’t changed my mind.
(The Yellow Thing, NUIG)
Now, I am a Cancer, so I’m naturally stubborn – but I think the fact that I haven’t changed my mind on this one has to be talked about. Have you a couple of minutes? Could we talk about it? Thanks.
Oh, you want me to lie down on that red velvet couch and talk about my childhood? Don’t mind if I do…
Okay, well I think I can blame Mammy Tull-Meister for a lot of this. (What kind of Irish Mammy would she be if she didn’t get the blame for almost everything?). Mammy Tull-Meister is a beautiful, all knowing being, you see. She is goodness and grace incarnate. So, I suppose it’s only normal that when I was a little girl, I wanted to be “Mammy Tull-Meister, new and improved millennial version, with real live baby instead of sticky baby born” when I grew up.
But I’m not entirely sure what the writer dream was created from. Perhaps it came from a muddle of Roald Dahl books, a fascination with people, and the fact I received fancy stationary for every birthday or Christmas present, ever (I still do). Perhaps Mammy Tull-Meister read too many Maeve Binchy books when she was expecting me.
Look, I don’t know. We could be here all day trying to figure it out, and I know you don’t have that kind of time. I know you’re busy studying to be/being a teacher, nurse, computer engineer … maybe you really did become the President of the USA (Obama, Trump – I know you read my articles… )
(Donald Trump reading from my blog)
Anyway, the point is, I haven’t changed my mind. And I don’t need to. What needs to change, is the question.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a future orientated question – and the future can be a magically dazzling place of possibilities. Or it can be a frighteningly uncertain place, for those of us whose career choices mightn’t be as straightforward as others.
So, instead of asking ourselves what we want to be, maybe it’s time start to asking how we want to be.
I want to be happy, and writing makes me happy. How about you?