Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up

I dreamed of having several professions as a non-adult (I couldn't settle on child, adolescent, or young woman--maybe the correct term to denote someone not "grown-up" would be a "grown-down"?). My career goal changed every few years for different reasons, and while I've settled comfortably and sleeplessly into the roles of wife and mother (my ultimate goals all along), I find it amusing to imagine what might have been or has yet to be.

When I dreamed of being a roller derby-er ... and a sheriff (look closely to see my legit sheriff star)

It was sometime in middle school that I decided I wanted to be an English teacher. As the study of our beautiful language and its accompanying literature was my favorite subject, it would make sense to teach it, right? Ha! A few unsatisfactory and dream-crushing English teachers in high school rid me of this aspiration to teach, specifically one who was particularly fixated on how the red pickle dish in Ethan Frome was representative of repressed sexuality.

And now that I am a grown-up I realize something about myself that would make teaching English (or any middle or high school subject) feel like being waterboarded: I don't like teenagers. It took one day of being a substitute teacher at Timpanogos High to solidify this in my mind. Yes, it is sad that I have little faith in our youth today and that I want to cram their bejeweled cell phones down their unceasingly gossiping and whining throats. Why can't they just shut up and watch Jason and the Argonauts?!?! My heart rate is going up, so on to the next profession.

My senior year of high school I chose to research gene therapy for our massive "senior project," I think because of some Time Magazine article I read about how viruses can be used to insert genetic material into cells in an attempt to repair them. Also, I was fascinated by the book Genome that I read in sophomore biology. From those experiences was born the desire to study genetics. It was also an intelligent-sounding major to give as the answer to the ubiquitous question about what I would be studying at college. And let's not forget my dreams of wearing a smart yet attractively fitted white scientist coat--the real perk of the job. It would all be very CSI--dark and glamorous as I mapped the genome of cockroaches or something.

Somewhere between graduation and the first day of classes at BYU, however, my focus shifted to chemical engineering, probably largely due to my parents' nudging. "Go," they said, "make us proud and invent a chemical." Unfortunately, after one week of chemical engineering classes, I dropped all of them out of boredom and fear for my GPA, and I added "creative writing" and "weather" instead. My future sister-in-law was my weather TA!

I blissfully entered major limbo for a while, and I flirted a little bit with the idea of studying film. Why? Why not! In fact, why didn't I go for that? That would have been so cool! So artsy! So fresh and edgy, like a pineapple. Although I don't know if Nathan would have married a film major, meaning I might be without both a husband and a job right now. Go watch a Buster Keaton movie! Silent films are horribly underrated!

I finally settled on a major after a lot of thought and prayer: marriage and family studies. The plan was to go on to graduate school and become a marriage and family therapist. I loved studying this in my undergrad. I could write a whole series of posts on why it is a wonderful and how frustrated I am that people don't give it more credit as a serious field of study worthy of attention. When the time came to apply to grad school, however, there was another potential project on the metaphorical table ... a baby perhaps? In the end, baby won out and we ended up with this cutie pie.

Can a master's degree do this?

I haven't completely ruled out going back to school when I'm ancient to pursue MFT, but I kind of wonder if I have the personal skills necessary to be a good therapist. You know, gentleness, patience, empathy, etc. I might be more the Dr. Laura variety ... or else a Nike therapist--Just Do It, you know. Because I really think that is the secret to life and all it's sub-genres (like marriage). Do what will make your life better--just do it. I firmly believe that all of us are exactly where we want to be in life. If we wanted it to be different--we would make it so. Another post for another day, but all hail social exchange theory. Coming back to my point, I might not make the best therapist. Maybe after thirty years and six kids I'll be more soft-hearted (I better be!).

So I jumped around a bit in trying to decide what to be when "I grew up," but behind the dreams of being the  attractive geneticist or the inspiring English teacher was always the little girl who wanted to be a writer. At times I tried to convince myself that something else would do the trick, but I always knew the truth--even when I was too scared to admit it: I wanted to write.

More on that tomorrow.


  1. WELL DUH! We all knew it would end like this after you published "Why No One Likes Sally"

  2. So, the lady I teach English to, who is a Sudanese refugee, is "exactly where she wants to be" which is raising 7 children by herself because her husband just left her to go back to Sudan to marry someone else?

  3. Oh the pickle dish....


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