“What do you want to be when you grow up?” has got to be the most inane question adults ask children. I suppose, for some kids, it’s an encouragement to dream, to imagine a variety of paths. For others, it implies that at the tender age of seven, they should have this stuff figured out! I was one of those kids who actually did have an answer at a pretty young age: I wanted to be a writer. A novelist, to be specific.
You would think that a kid who had life pretty much figured out by first grade would have walked a nice, straight path from elementary school to publishing contract, but that’s not how it happened. I wandered around quite a bit (I have two kids with AD(H)D, and they say it’s hereditary, but I’m pretty sure they get it from their father!), tried a lot of projects, ideas, and careers. I got bored. A lot.
Some writers and artists claim that creating is like breathing – if they don’t create, their whole world falls apart. If that’s true, I held my creative breath for a really long time.
So how do you know what you want to be when you grow up – even if you’re already (technically!) grown up? How do you find your thing?
For me, writing was the one thing that I always came back to. It was always there, in the background of my life. I might throw myself into this field or that industry for a few years, but eventually I’d burn out and start writing again. Writing was always there. I needed to finally ask myself, “What do I want to be?” There were so many things I could do but only one thing I wanted to be.
And then you go for it, right? That’s the hardest part. Figuring it out, dreaming, deciding – those are easy. Transforming a life from daydream to reality takes nothing short of a home-made miracle.