According to my mom and dad, when I was little, I used to say that I wanted to be a garbage truck driver. Yeah, I know — literally dumping trash and pumping gas isn’t something a typical four-year-old girl wishes to grow up to do. It impressed me how the men rode, clinging onto the back end of the truck, pushing buttons to crush the unwanted goods to dust. Although I am sure it would have been more appropriate for a young lady to look up to Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, I looked up to those men because they appeared fearless and strong. I never really liked the “girly” things my parents and sisters gave to me. In fact, when Barbie smiled at me through a plastic window, I took her out, tore her head off and threw her body to the dog. I should have loved the color pink and liked the smell of daisies; I didn’t. I was ridiculed for hating both and told I shouldn’t be so different.
When I turned six, my grandpa gave me a book about prehistoric beasts. I couldn’t read well, but I liked the pictures and the long words with plenty of strange letter combinations. Words like “pterodactyl” and “brachytrachelopan” fascinated me, and made me feel exceptionally intellectual just to know how to pronounce them (even if I did so poorly). When asked, I proudly responded, “I want to be a paleontologist when I grow up!” Adults praised me for being so intelligent at such a young age, and I felt special. But one day, I learned that bone diggers don’t make much money. So, I changed for a few extra thousand dollars a year.
By the age of eight, I decided I wanted to become a veterinarian because that’s what my best friend wanted to be. She loved animals and said we should help them because they can’t help themselves. I took a bite of the pie graph, “Occupations Wanted By Children.” It tasted bland and watered down but it made me normal to want that for myself—even if it wasn’t my own dream. My friends and I babbled about having every species imaginable for pets and loving them more than Romeo loved Juliet. But when my mom told me that I might have to euthanize animals, the pie tasted a lot more ****** going down. I decided I should search for another job.
Around twelve, I started writing a journal. I named it “Joyful” because that’s what I felt the best emotion was and wrote in it occasionally during my sixth grade year. The pages were cluttered with names of boys I had crushes on and i’s dotted with hearts. I modeled my naivety through my entries but it was motivating how I could see my style and thoughts developing over time. My entries went from “I love the sky!” to “When a cloud drifts just in the right position next to the sun and makes that golden ray, I feel as if God’s finger is pointing down to a specific thing he created and saying to us on Earth, ‘Hey, see that thing over there? Yeah, I made that and it’s beautiful. It deserves respect.’” I have smashed windows in the writing process and let in drafts of fresh ink. I am aware that being a writer in most cases makes a person financially deprived, but that won‘t affect my aspirations. Writing has been my dream since sixth grade and even now I know I’m not perfect but at least I’m pushing myself to be better. I’m changing for me.
No matter how adamantly I’ve tried or how much I realize that writing is sometimes harder than brain surgery, I don’t seem to slice it out of my life. Societal success is measured in dollars but if dreams had monetary value and salary was how badly a person wanted to make that dream come true, I would be paid more green than the Earth has blades of grass. I shouldn’t have to explain to people why I don’t want to be a garbage man or a paleontologist or a veterinarian, or why I don’t want to live by their popular choices. For all I know, I could be the best waste manager that ever had the pleasure to take away last week’s paper. I could strike it rich by discovering a billion-year-old algae. I might save the next Lassie or Winn Dixie. It isn’t up to other people to decide what I want to be when I grow up (if I ever decide to). Instead, I’ll write in spite of everyone else — for the ones that didn’t follow their dreams and strived for physical wealth. If I am to be paid in blades of grass, I will live. And I will die knowing I am one of the few to see a such a gorgeous, glistening, green meadow.
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