by Lilith DemHareIs
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" I still ask that question today. What we are and what we want to be tend to be two different things. (Although some of us tend to get closer than others.)
Back when money or job security was not a concern, we would dream about what we would do when we 'grew up.' "I wanna be a fireman." I wanna be a schoolteacher." "I wanna be a cowboy." We never thought about having to pay taxes, or if we forgot to set the timer for the deep-fry. All we cared about was doing something we loved, and doing it well. The satisfaction of a job well done was reward enough for us.
It's amazing the wisdom children possess.
The best jobs are the ones we are willing to do for free. It's a shame that we need money in this world. It's a shame we have to pay rent, buy food, and pay off HECS or Stanford Student Loans. The world would be a much happier place without money. (But I digress.)
Don't ask yourself 'what you want to be when you grow up,' because the question tarnishes through adult eyes. Instead, ask yourself:
If money was not a concern, what would you do in life?
Only the dull or the mega-losers in life would say that they would much rather sit on their butts all day and watch TV. Most people have an idea on something they'd much rather do than the soulsucking job they've got now.
Me, I'd write. I'd write and publish. Or I'd be on stage or screen, either performing or crew. Tightrope walking in the circus would be fun. I'd breed cats. (And none of those fancy showcats. I'd breed the common Domestic American Shorthairs for their mousing qualities.) Maybe I'd compose music. Or teach a class or two.
And you'd never *EVER* catch me asking you if 'you want fries with that.' Ever.
So maybe I'll never do all of that. I don't expect to. It'd take my whole life to achieve the unrealistic stuff. But I do expect to do *some* of it. I've worked hard to achieve at least one of those things that I'd like to do. And why shouldn't I?
Why should I put lots of time and effort into something if it's not going to lead me to do what I want to do?
Many of us work ourselves into a rut. We get stuck in dead-end jobs that aren't anything near what we want to do. Circumstances, luck, and poor choices help stick us there. Sure, we have to work to pay the rent. But don't let that be the be-all and end-all of existence. If we're not doing something each day to put us one step closer to where we want to be, then truly we are in a rut.
Education is usually the ticket out. Someone *somewhere* offers a class on what you want to do in life. On the other hand you can take it slow, and get educated in some skills that will allow you a slightly better job than the one you have. Maybe earn more money, have better hours that will allow you to take more classes, or you can meet new people that are going somewhere.
Often it's who you know, as much as what you know, that gets you somewhere. I know lots and lots of writers who are good at their craft, but they don't know who to talk to to get their stuff on the market. I know lots of good actors. But they don't know who to talk to to snag the auditions.
Get out and meet new people. They'll take you places. They'll know even more people, and you'll end up going somewhere.
If you're lucky to be young, NEVER EVER take the 'easy way out' of things. Don't drop out of school early because you don't like the way teachers treat you. When you take the easy way out, that is the sure road to mediocreville. (Unless of course, flipping burgers is your life-long dream.)
Get involved in extracurricular activities. Join a few clubs. Apply to a university. Take training courses. Travel a little bit. (Travel is very good.) Read books in a subject you've never read before.
Maybe all of us won't become tightrope walkers. But that doesn't mean we couldn't end up on the trapeze. I may not be making big bucks on writing at the moment, but I am getting published.
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