When I was younger, when we were all younger, people would look into our baby blue eyes, eyes filled with fairy floss and innocence and naïveté , and ask “what do you want to be when you grow up?” For me it wasn’t a doctor or princess or fireman, it was a baker.
And then they ask us again when we’re a bit older, and for lack of a better answer we repeat what we said before. Maybe adding a few, now that were experienced in the world. Journalist, photographer, baker.
And they ask again in high school. They make us attend classes, fill out quizzes, plan our lives around what we answered when we were four years old. And me – stupid, naive me- just parroted back my earlier answer. Knowing that I did love all those things, absolutely. But having some inclination that I had painted myself into a corner of a question I had answered at four years old.
And it’s only know, at twenty-four years old, that I realize that my answers, they weren’t wrong. It was the question. What do you want to be? Lots of things, and nothing. A daydreamer. A linguist. A collector of bugs. No, sorry. That doesn’t answer the question. I want to be a baker. A journalist. A photographer.
Being something, for me, was a commitment a costume. Take the Baker, for example. A wonderful character. Always smelling of cakes, often with flour dusted on the nose. Up before dawn, a people pleaser. How can the Baker also be, say, a cartoonist, a model car aficionado. How can the Baker be anything but the Baker?
Baker. Journalist. Photographer.
Wait, no. Those aren’t the things that I want to define me. That isn’t what I want to be. It’s just been the answer to a question. And it’s the question that has been wrong all along.
“What do you want to do?”
Grow my hair to my waist and cut it all off. Colour it purple. Visit Scotland and cry on the river bank. Meet people. Jump off a bridge. Fly a plane. Take yoga classes. Bake a cake. Take Spanish lessons. Fall in love.