What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I read this article today about “New York essays” which prompted me to read Joan Didion’s “Goodbye to All That”. My Didion interest is only a couple of years old (I know!). I immediately fell in love with The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights. Last year, Lena Dunham talked with Alec Baldwin about the biggest dream from her “pretentious private school” upbringing would have been to become Joan Didion.

Elementary school was a time of voracious reading for me. Writing, too. I would make up stories with Friend messages and read them to my family for FHE. It was also elementary school when I submitted one of my stories to this school district thing. The stories were compiled into a book of sorts and we got to skip school for a day and attend these workshops with actual published authors (several of which warned that there was no money in children’s literature).

But I think I also chose my career field when I was in elementary school. Although, I secretly hoped I would be Jo March from Little Women, I told my family I wanted to go to Harvard, be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company and ship my kids off to boarding school. I had no clue what a CEO of a Fortune 500 company did, but it sounded important and I knew that it would mean I was the boss.

Then in high school, I decided I wanted to be a financial planner. Although the last year of college made it very clear that was not in the cards for me, I finished with a finance degree and became an accountant. Almost ten years later and I’m still a little surprised about how I got here. I wonder what would have happened if I had been a little dreamier, braver. If I had paid more attention to my writing than to spreadsheets and financial ratios.

I’m not sad to see that my life isn’t how I thought it would be. My struggle is the feeling like I’m not so confident about where it’s going. I can’t see a clear path anymore. I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up. Maybe the answer will be somewhere in these new habits I’m trying out. Although, if I could start over, I’d shoot for Didion.

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