When I Grow Up…

Photo by Ash Fuentes

By Ash Fuentes

I miss when I was little and everyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Adults only ask small children that question when they don’t know how to talk to kids. Adults find it entertaining to hear what unrealistic aspirations could come out of a child’s mouth. Kids say stuff like, “I’m going to be an astronaut!” “I’m going to be famous!” or the really creepy children will say they want to be dentists (seriously what little kid goes to the dentist and likes it so much they want to be one?). I truly felt like the careers I answered with were going to be it for me, even though I would change my mind every few years.

In my third grade yearbook, they put our dream occupations underneath our names and photos. I put “teacher” because at the time I felt like I had so many good ideas to incorporate into learning. Looking back, I can’t believe I ever thought of being a teacher because I now have a strong dislike for children.

Then I wanted to be a performer, who writes their own songs and plays their own instruments like Hannah Montana. Then I wanted to be a fashion designer, after sewing clothes for my American Girl dolls. Then interior designer because of my HGTV obsession. One day I turned to forensics work because of my interest in true crime. Then I wanted to be in film. An actor, director, screenwriter, you name it! I wanted it. This was probably my longest-lasting interest because I applied to colleges as a film major. I’m a sociology major as I write this.

People have already stopped asking what I’ll be when I grow up. Instead, they ask me what my major is because I’m in college and expected to already be working towards what I’m going to be. I’m just 19, which doesn’t feel grown up at all to me. I’ve only been on the earth as long as Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter filmography and Shrek. If only I were like Barbie, who has over 200 careers regardless if she had a degree or not. Instead, I feel passionless, not good enough to fit into at least one career.

Every day I wonder how my academic success would’ve been different if I had made different life choices. What if I didn’t quit dance, voice, or piano lessons growing up? What if I tried playing sports? What if I stuck with theatre through all of high school? What if I never switched my elective from forensic science to theatre before the first day of  freshman year? What if I actually applied to that magnet school with the fashion program? 

Some days I really just long for the moments where I was still an innocent child, too young to know that certain careers were past my limit. I miss that blissful period of life where I was still considered young and didn’t know that I really couldn’t be anything that I wanted to be. I wish I didn’t have to know that Hollywood only works for white people or that I should have planned for my whole life even sooner. I wish I could still answer the question with something silly, like a doll dress shop owner. Maybe I’m not nostalgic for a certain thing or period of time in my past, but a specific feeling. If only I was still an unaware, protected child then I wouldn’t be unafraid of having an occupation.

I suppose I should stop thinking of “What If” questions and start asking myself what I can do to take action now. …Eh. It’s okay. I’ll just wait a few more years until a new interest comes up.

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