When I was in Kindergarten, I was asked a few simple questions by my teacher for some sort of student profile they were making. You know how teachers are always making “Watch Me Grow!” type booklets with handprints and bits of artwork. What’s your name? Do you have pets? What’s your favorite color? I wouldn’t have remember this particular survey because of one section that asked me to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up.
What did I want to be when I was twenty? A teacher. Obviously I was going to be super intelligent and graduate everything two years early. I was a bit of a cocky bastard as a child, but it made me lovable.
What did I want to be when I was fifty? A Grandma. Clearly I’d be done with any sort of work at that age. My husband and children could care for me while I was a grandma. I could show up for birthdays and holidays like a boss. I also thought that by fifty I’d be in any way prepared for making Thanksgiving dinner, apparently.
What did I want to be when I was eighty? Dead. This is the single greatest response I’ve ever given. I probably should have just quit then, knowing that I couldn’t get more awesome and probably everything from then on would be a slow downward spiral.
Fast forward twenty years. I’m sitting in the kitchen of a family that isn’t my own, drinking instant coffee with Sweet’n’Low and Coffeemate Creamer. I have thirty minutes until I have to leave for work. I’m not really sure I’ll finish this by the time I have to go. I really, I’m just so angry at everyone who wastes there time bitching about Disney’s unreal expectations.
Complaining about Disney princesses has to be the biggest first world problem to exist in all of time and space. Honestly, we’re getting upset about princes saving princesses? I’m sorry but I never thought that I’d get trapped as a hostage in replacement for my dad by and hairy monster who deep down is a sweetheart and changes into a prince who wants to spend happily ever after with me. I also never had to worry about a crazy stepmom trying to poison me with an apple while I lived with a bunch of dwarf miners. Forest animals are not my friends.
I did grow up with other unrealistic expectations. Go to college so you can get a good job and take care of yourself. Once you get a forty hour a week job, you won’t have to live at home or be dependent on your parents. By the time you graduate from college you’ll know God’s purpose for you. There are a few people I’d like to punch in the nose for that one.
Disney is not the enemy, as it turns out.
We are with our collective ideas of how life is supposed to be and how we’re supposed to feel as an adult. I’m closer to thirty than I am to twenty. I probably won’t ever be a grandma so I’ll have to, you know, completely redo my life plan I made in Kindergarten. Again. Because I might not know what God wants me to do with my life, but I know things he doesn’t want me to do with my life, the number one thing: being a teacher.
I’m steadily understanding while adults hate their birthdays. I never understood it before, but that’s because I was in my bubble of possibility. Prior to about twenty-two, I figured I could do anything. I knew I could to anything. There was so much time left to become anyone I wanted. The metallic sound of doors slamming shut didn’t haunt my thoughts. I never had this sense that I’d wasted decades of my life. I’ve never had decades (plural) of my life before.
But you know what? Screw it. My life is nothing like how I thought it would be. I’m scrambling to keep afloat financially. My dad pays for my car insurance, my phone bill, and some of my medical bills. I live with my friend’s parents. I’m not in the job God called me to do. And I could sit here and stew in that until my fingers are all pruny.
I’m not going to though. Why? I’m young. I’m really frickin’ young. I still have all the time in the world to DO something. Vera Wang didn’t become a designer until she was 40. Samuel L. Jackson was 46 when he did Pulp Fiction. Julia Child didn’t publish her first cookbook until she was 39. So, it’s really okay if right now I’m a hot mess, struggling to pay bills and wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life because I’m still pushing forward, albeit awkwardly and not always a straight line.
I’m going to write something, anything. It feels like it won’t ever happen, but I keep having ideas and one will have fruition.
I’m going to travel the world. I’m going to all of the countries I’ve always wanted to see and some that I don’t.
I’m going to go to Harry Potter World, and I really couldn’t give a fuck if you think that’s juvenile.
I’m going to continue to overcome my mental illness. I won’t let it beat me, no matter how hard it fights back.
I’m going to one day make enough to live on my own and pay all of my bills. That will be a thing.
I’m going to find happiness in my life even if it looks nothing like the lives of people around me. I will find God’s plan specially designed for me.
Twenty-six is just another number to collect, a sign of experiences gained. It’s not a panic inducing sign of failures building into one big clusternut failure that will implode my life. It’s also not a sign of being old. I’m older than some people and younger than some people. What’s important is that I have life to live, which is cheesy to say and will last approximately five seconds, knowing my personality. Still, there’s nothing wrong with attempting to be positive.
So here’s my new life plan:
What do you want to be when you are thirty? I want to be able to play ukulele and write calligraphy.
What do you want to be when you are forty? I want to be in the process of publishing my third book.
What do you want to be when you are fifty? I want to have transitioned into being an editor or a creative writing professor at a university.
What do you want to be when you are sixty? I want to be a travel writer for middle age adventurers.
What do you want to be when you are seventy? I still want to be a travel writer because, let’s be honest, that sounds REALLY fun.
What do you want to be when you are eighty? Dead.