As a child, you dream about growing up and becoming something that sounds heroic (cop, firefighter, superhero) or beautiful (princess, actress, model). Rarely does a child dream of growing into someone who will change the world like Ghandi or Mother Teresa.
Don’t worry – I’m not here to tell you how I was a child prodigy who dreamed of following in Mother Teresa’s footsteps (although, I did want to become a nun at one point after watching Sister Act).
My earliest “I want to be _____ when I grow up” memories are of being a celebrity (I was convinced I would be discovered in a mall food court or someplace similar) or – my parents will back me up on this – a crossing guard. Yes. I wanted to be someone who volunteers for a living. Clearly I thought I was independently wealthy or I had no qualms with living on welfare all of my adult life.
While growing up, my dreams changed. Next, I remember wanting to be a lawyer. This came about some time during grade school and lasted through most of high school. My parents wholeheartedly supported this dream despite the hefty price tag that was going to come with it. I eventually settled on being a corporate lawyer simply because I would make a lot of money. A girl’s gotta pay off her law school debt!
My dad supported this because I had logic and book smarts – and I was winning arguments against him using said logic by the time I was 12. Around that age, he also gave me my first John Grisham novel because he was tired of taking me to the library every other day – I would go through my young adult novels in a day or less. “Here. Get through this one in a day,” he claimed triumphantly as he handed me The Pelican Brief.
A few years later when I finally finished The Pelican Brief (I kept setting it down because I didn’t understand what the hell I was reading) I found myself wanting more John Grisham. I found myself sucked into the small town of Clayton, Mississippi and rooting for the jilted, loveless lawyers who found themselves in this small town. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and felt guilty when I was reading Mr. Grisham instead of the assigned reading like The Grapes of Wrath (Never finished it) or Les Misérables (I wanted to finish this one. But I didn’t.)
After turning over a thousand well-written pages, I found myself losing the dream to be lawyer. They go to school FOR-EV-ER, have tons of debt, don’t make a lot of money at first, have to start with terrible grunt work, and aren’t doing a ton of courtroom arguing all the time. Being a lawyer was not at all what I thought it was! John Grisham crushed my dream.
What was I going to go to college for now?! I felt so lost! And then – we took a test to see what we should become when we grew up. Now, I can’t tell you any of the questions or what my actual result was, all I remember is that one of the suggested professions for me was a CIA Agent.
That sounds SO COOL!
I was set! I was going to become a CIA Agent and travel the world and tell everyone how cool I am!
Enter AP Spanish.
2002 – Senior year of high school. I went from joining the CIA (I realized I was terrible at languages) to being a child psychologist (AP Psychology was awful, learning about all those stupid theorists) to being a teacher. My mom freaked out because she was convinced I was going to be poor being a teacher (she probably feared I would end up living in her basement) but my dad and I finally got her on board with the idea and she finally realized I would be okay and not end up living in her basement.
I finally graduated college in 2011 with my B.A. in English.
I’m now in HR, and part of my job is visiting top schools in the nation, where I allow myself to picture attending there for one my lost dreams. For the past few years it has been going back to school for child psychology. While I sometimes regret changing my major and pursuing a degree in education, I’m glad I did. I wasn’t serious enough as a student and could have possibly failed out of the program. The same goes for being a lawyer – not only do I think I wouldn’t have done as well as needed, but I would’ve hated my job.
So thank you, Mr. Grisham, for crushing my dreams. You led me to greener pastures.