My eight-year-old had to do a little speech today to her class about what she wants to be when she grows up. And it felt like one of those seminal moments in childhood, the kind she’ll talk about when she’s older and filling out those random questionnaires they sometimes make you do in those “getting to know you” quizzes. I feel like she’ll chuckle about it one day, or think about it quite deeply, and wonder if her career, vocation and life have stayed true to her childhood dreams and desires.
Because it’s the kind of question you ask yourself when you’re going on a personal rediscovery or a creative journey, like you do in The Artist’s Way. What we wanted to be when we grew up tells us about what first interested us. For me it was a fashion designer. I was all ready to see my designs on the catwalk and I carried around a little sketch book with my ideas for dresses and outfits in it. I could not draw at all, but the design ideas were there. Then I wanted to be an author and wrote lots of stories in my little homemade books and imagined how they’d look on other people’s shelves (I think this is quite a common one!).
So I haven’t ended up working in fashion, but what the Artist’s Way advises is that even if you haven’t ended up becoming that thing you first wanted to become, consider doing it as a hobby or as a side hustle. For me, my interest in fashion has manifested every day when I get dressed, and I love having fun with outfits and documenting what I wear sometimes.
But it can be expressed differently by everyone. Say you always wanted to be a dancer but ended up being a physiotherapist? Then look for some adult ballet classes and sign up! Say you always wanted to be a vet, but ended up being an entrepreneur? Why not volunteer at an animal shelter in your spare time? All these secret passions that remain dormant are like little unpolished windows we carry around, and once we start doing these small things that make the child-version of us happy (perhaps our truest selves?), a clear spot opens up in that glass and the sun can shine through. It’s certainly something to think about.
It was on my mind when watching Rachel rehearse her speech yesterday, and listening to why she wants to be an engineer one day. “Because I like Maths Mommy, and helping people. And I like to invent machines and build things with my Lego,” she announced. And it’s always a bit magical to me, how you have these children and for some vain reason you imagine they will be very similar to you in terms of their interests or skills, but then they end up being these wonderful and surprising small humans, who are totally unique.
Her dad trained as an engineer but no longer works as one, so I guess her interest isn’t completely unfounded. There’s something very special about watching her build a complicated machine with my husband, watching her make the gears turn, seeing how they turn each of the other gears (apparently this is what gears do, who knew?!). These then turn the big wheel in front, which drives the contraption forward. It may as well be Greek to me, as this is simply not how my brain works. It was the same way last year when she was inventing all these machines out of buttons and marbles and cardboard tubes. So I just sit and smile and feel proud.
Of course she’ll probably change her mind, or switch careers frequently – and will the concept of a “career” even exist by the time she’s an adult? It’s all going to change and I feel like I need to do a bit of research and hear from the experts. I’m going to start out with “FutureProofing Your child” – has anyone read it?
How about you guys though – what did you want to be when you grew up? And are you doing anything related to that now? I’d love to hear.
Have good weeks,