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What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

It’s the end of summer, which always makes me weepy.  It used to make me happy, back when I was in school.  I liked school.  I liked the structure of school.  I wasn’t a fan of summer, with its long, creeping days that didn’t take on any particular shape.  Now, it is the opposite.  I wait all year for summer, and start dreading the return to school at the beginning of August.  It feels like every fall takes me closer to THE fall, the one where the twins leave for college.

I can’t write those words without crying.

I’m a fucking wreck, and they’re still in elementary school.


Josh has been making a lot of changes, careerwise, and trying out new skills just for the fun of it, such as the Radio Race.  It feels like fall is going to be a restart of sorts for him, and it’s certainly a restart for the kids as they enter a new grade.

For a few weeks, it has felt like everyone else has gotten new school supplies in their toolbox, and I’m left with my stubby, half-used crayons.  Yes, my job looks different from day-to-day; it’s always changing, so that part is nice.  But if I look at it from another angle, it’s also always the same.  My hobbies have been trucking along for years now, especially since I gave up guitar.  I loved learning guitar.  I did not so much love practicing guitar.  So after two years of lessons, I went back to my old hobbies.  And that’s where I’ve been ever since.

It didn’t bother me when no one else around me was reveling in newness.

But it has bothered me more and more as fall moves closer.


I found a new hobby — game-making — a few weeks ago.  It started with an uphill learning curve which made me feel very smart when I mastered the skill.  I worked very hard on my first project, and by the time I was ready for people to see it, I was thinking that I had found my calling in life.  This is who I was meant to be.  I was going to do this forever.  It made me feel so good.

Do you know how I felt?  Like at the end of A Mighty Wind, when Harry Shearer said, “After that concert I realized I want to spend as much of the rest of my life as possible playing folk music with these gentlemen. And I want to spend all of it as a woman.”  I already am a woman, so I have that covered, but I wanted to spend as much of the rest of my life as possible with my new hobby.

But it got a lukewarm reception.

Not a bad reception, just a lukewarm one.

I’m not really being fair.  Josh pointed out that no one was ever going to be able to match the excitement of someone who feels really really good doing something new.  In the same way that you can be excited about your friend’s wedding, but you’re never going to match her excitement on embarking on her new life.

So I’ve taken my expectations down a notch.  Down a few notches.  It’s good enough if someone enjoys what I made for a few minutes.  I’m aiming lower than a superlative like fantastic, best, or even, super neat-o.  I’ll call it a success if most people say, “oh… cool!”

I guess you can say that I found a new hobby to fill the gap that fall always brings, and a new community to go with it.  And it feels like returning to school, moving back into some sort of structure that holds up my day.

Which is a long way of saying that I think I’ve figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

Have you figured out what you want to be yet?


1 TasIVFer { 08.11.14 at 8:15 am }

I’m a week back after being away in Europe for 6 1/2 weeks. Things weren’t great at work before I left, but now it’s really frustrating. A year ago I’d just moved there to work with a manager I really wanted to work with and knew I had a lot to learn from; he moved to another job 2 months after I started. Now I feel stagnate, unappreciated, etc. I loved what I do, but today wondered what my life would look like if I did something else. So, yeah, no idea what I want to do if I grow up. Sorry – venting about my bad day! I hope things pick up for you and you find inspiration.

2 Valery { 08.11.14 at 8:34 am }

this might explain what my DP is up to, and why he hardly ever shows me. I think it started out as something on the phone to change the TV channel with. Except he got sidetracked with downloading pictures for every TV show on earth. Or Something.

3 Ana { 08.11.14 at 10:51 am }

No, I haven’t. Maybe this is it? It can’t be, can it? I keep thinking back to school should be coming soon for me, too, since I’ve been stuck in this rut for a few years now…

4 a { 08.11.14 at 10:55 am }

I don’t want to grow up . 🙂

I also don’t want to be anything in particular. I just want to drift from one entertaining yet relaxing experience to the next.

P.S. Today is my daughter’s first day of 2nd grade.

5 Brid { 08.11.14 at 12:47 pm }

Argh… at 42, I still suck. Going back to school myself in September for a lame teachers certificate… I learned the hard way that a masters in literature shit fuck good for nothing. What’s up with the kids going back in August? Ours go back in September and that seems fast. And the song for Phineas and Ferb says there’s a hundred and four days of summer vacation, so how do they fit them all in?

6 andy { 08.11.14 at 1:36 pm }

So can we play with your new hobby? What kind of games? Book puzzles, online games? I love games! I want to play.

7 Sharon { 08.11.14 at 2:04 pm }

I changed careers at age 30. I will say that I like my current career better than my first career. . . but that’s not to say that I don’t think I could be doing something else I would like better.

However, being now age 43, a mother of two small children and the higher wage earner in our household, the likelihood of my changing careers again is slim-to-none. So I am content to stick with my current choice indefinitely.

8 A. { 08.11.14 at 6:31 pm }

I became what I wanted to be, but the vitriol directed at teaching these days is driving people from the profession. The best teachers I know are looking for an exit strategy. I’ve been thinking about going to PA school and possibly specializing in fertility.

9 Justine { 08.11.14 at 9:13 pm }

Hooray for your new vocation! 🙂 I love what I do, but I don’t know if it’s what I want to be. My presence is also a kind of absence … if I do my job well enough, I vanish, and the students no longer need me as a scaffold/compass/dongle. 😉

So when can we see your game?

10 Serenity { 08.16.14 at 2:33 pm }

I just, this very week, acknowledged a very tiny seed germ of an idea about what I want to be when I grow up. I don’t know if it’s IT, but I’m going to nurture it for a bit and see what happens.

I also just read a book this week at the lake about dharmas (aka: life work/vocation/what you want to be when you grow up), and it says this: “This is the way to live a passionate life without being caught in the fetters of grasping. Do your work passionately. Then let it go. Now you are free.”

I love that you love your new hobby.

I also do not love that the end of summer is near.


(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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