“Now I’ve got a confession. When I was young I wanted attention. And I promised myself that I’d do anything, anything at all for them to notice me… when I grow up I wanna be famous, I wanna be a star, I wanna be in movies…” ~The Pussycat Dolls
When I grow up I want to be a comedian. That’s what I said when I was first asked that question in third grade. I thought it had to be a wonderful life getting to laugh and make people laugh all the time. It seemed like the perfect job because it didn’t seem like a job at all. Fun was of course the only order of the day in third grade in the early 80s, not the strict enterprise it has become these days. Maybe if I was growing up now I would say something like a CPA with all this new math and the possibilities that come along with it.
I had a friend who had his heart set on being a SEPTA bus driver when he grew up. He wanted to drive that bus from stop to stop, letting on and letting off passengers who would pretend he didn’t exist. They would slide their change into the box up front and he would fantasize about what he would do with all that money if it were his. I guess it would be powerful, having so many people’s lives in your hands, such a powerful vehicle under your control, but it just never was for me. Last I heard he was driving 18-wheelers from Maine to Florida, which I guess isn’t too far off from his dream.
Often we don’t end up doing the things we said we would do when we got older. For one reason or another it’s rare for people to make up their minds in that impressionable phase of youth and never change it throughout the years. I met someone a few years back who told me she had been dead set on being a meteorologist from the moment she was able to form memories, and amazingly enough that’s what she does now, and she called it “the perfect job.” For her there was never a moment of wavering, and that’s about as surprising to see as a dodo bird in New York.
What usually happens is that our world expands, we see more occupations and are exposed to different things, so we change our minds, which is fine. Since third grade I went through no fewer than 8 careers I just “knew” I wanted to have when I grew up. Until I finally did grow up and I was still no closer to knowing what it was I truly wanted to do. Maybe that’s the secret no one told us when we were busy growing up — that growing up doesn’t mean everything becomes clear. So we gravitate to transitional jobs, menial jobs, jobs that give us time and space to keep on thinking, even while we’re already technically grownups. It would be funny if it weren’t all so serious.
Could I still be a comedian? Sure, if I wanted to go that route this late in life. I’m good in front of crowds. I think quickly on my feet. I like the spotlight. But I don’t take rejection well. So I guess that’s out. When I grow up I want to be happy. Because that’s the one I can control more than anything else. Well, isn’t it?