When I was in second grade I wanted to be an astronaut because I was obsessed with Ms. Frizzle and The Magic School Bus series. Four years later in sixth grade I wanted to be a physical therapist because that’s what my best friend wanted to be. (Nevermind that I didn’t know what a physical therapist was.) Fast-forward a few more awkward years to high school and I was set upon becoming an interior designer, partly because I was infatuated with Trading Spaces but mostly because it sounded sophisticated. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I thankfully scrapped all those ridiculous ambitions and decided to become a high school English teacher.
Now rewind back to junior year of high school. For one of our English assignments we had to write an essay on what we wanted to be when we “grew up” and while the rest of the class wrote about engineering or nursing or farming (I’m from Iowa, remember?), one wonderfully precocious student wrote about how she wanted to be herself. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but her closing sentence sounded something like this: “I don’t know what I’ll do when I grow up but I do know that, no matter what I decide, I’ll always be me.” (I’d love to tell you that precocious student was me but I’m afraid it was someone much cooler.)
So I’ve been doing that thing I do which leads to that other thing I’m doing right now. I’ve been thinking. A lot. About my childhood ambitions and my classmate’s essay and the possibility that I’m already who I want to be without knowing it. And you know, the more I think about it the less crazy it seems.
I want to be a positive role model for kids and maybe somewhere between all the homework assigning and timeout patrolling, it’s happening a fraction of a tiny bit. I want to help other people who’ve experienced postpartum issues and perhaps tucked underneath unassuming guest posts and Twitter chats that magic is unfolding. Not the way I initially pictured it in my head – more subtly and discreetly – but unfolding nonetheless.
And here’s the one that’s really got my head spinning. A writer. I’ve wanted to be a writer forever and I’ve always had this absurd assumption that at the exact moment it happened I would one hundred percent know it. The clouds would part and angels would descend yielding a shiny crown made of golden “W’s” and anointed with holy ink. They’d smack that sucker right on my head and – voila! – the world and I would instantly know that I was a real-life, legitimate writer. (As opposed to, you know, a fake one?)
While I don’t deny that a small part of me will always be waiting for that glorious day – although I’m guessing the angels will look more like book publication and the crown more like Best Seller list, but who knows? – it might be possible that I’m kinda, sorta, maybe a writer already. (Trust me, this suggestion is not fearlessly proposed. My ego trembles at the very realistic possibility that at any moment someone could come in and slaughter it.)
I mean, I’ve created innumerable characters and plotlines over the past twenty-seven years and I’ve got this little blog of mine that stats show people are actually reading. Not that readership makes a writer; I’m pretty sure writing makes a writer. Although what do I know? The angels have yet to pay me a visit, remember?
I’m just saying that I might already be the very thing I’ve always wanted to be, which makes me think it’s about time I sit back and congratulate myself.