It feels good to have the power to make anything happen in life. To become whoever I’ve envisioned myself to be, to live anywhere I’ve fantasized in my dreams, embodying the person I always believed was within me. No dream is too small or too outrageous for me to make happen. The feeling that no thought or hope is too wishful to become a reality one day is immensely satisfying and exciting.
In grammar school, teachers would consistently ask me to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up, who I aspired to be, the profession that would make me feel whole. No matter what that childish dream was, whether it be an astronaut, a superhero, an athlete, it was always attainable. I could save lives as a doctor or a fireman, or I could invent something that my eight-year-old self would have never thought possible. The choices were endless. It’s been a couple of decades since I was first asked the question of where I saw my adult life taking me, and some days my answer is the same as it was then: a blank piece of paper.
I’ve always had a hard time with this question. Don’t get me wrong, I do have passions and things that I am currently working towards, but there were just so many options out there in the world, and I saw myself doing just about any of them. I imagined myself walking the red carpet before winning the award for best screenplay. Or relaxing into tree pose on the beaches of Hawaii, teaching as a yoga instructor. Or attending a book signing for my own national bestselling novel, the first of many as a published author. I still wouldn’t count out any of those visions on eventually becoming my reality.
As much as I try, I’m learning that I can’t control the outcome of my life. I can mold and shape it to match as closely to my dreams as I can, but the future will always remain uncertain. The career I once thought that I would have when choosing a college major may not be what I’m meant to do, not because I couldn’t achieve it, but because it may not fulfill me like I thought it would. My passions have changed throughout my life. What once brought me joy and ambition may now be guiding me in a different direction than when my journey began.
The question of “what do I want to be when I grow up?” is more complex than anyone in my class realized. The answer could change at age 50 as easily as it did every week of second grade. The question should have been “what kind of person do you want to become?” That would have been the ultimate test to how life has shaped each and every one of us.
I don’t know how those who dreamt of a life as an astronaut, an athlete, or their version of a superhero turned out. Chances are, they grew out of their childhood fantasies and moved on to other fascinations. The posters on their walls and those that they looked up to probably changed on rotation over the years as their visions became more and more clear.
Twenty years later, I may have a clearer picture of how I want to spend my days, but the image is more like a puzzle, where it may take me a little while to figure out where all the pieces fit. Eventually it will all come together, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the journey.