I had the answers back in kindergarten…but they were neither right nor wrong.
It doesn’t matter where I am: under my blanket, in the shower, aboard the metropolis train, walking to my office, guiltlessly devouring nutella sandwich at our lone table at home, or out somewhere a space only I knew of. My kindergarten teacher’s question would haunt me like a creepy mischievous shadow, “When you grow up, what would you want to be?” And in like a snap, I’d see an imaginary canvass, white and clean. Empty.
I had the answers when I was a kid – a pocketful of confident answers. And I must have told my teacher of them with a wide grin unveiling my carefree broken smile. Now that I’m a grownup, I would usually catch myself in chunks of introspection and retrospection, and how the thoughts weave themselves together often throws me a full-blown smack kicking me out from my own life. Mind-boggling realizations, often irritating, but a fairly good way to kill time.
At this point in my life, where [perhaps] I’m supposed to have already figured what I would want to do for the next half a century, I’m only finding myself stuck with a fair display of options, not with a headstrong decision. Admittedly, I would want to become all of my many options: a fashion designer, a wedding planner, a businesswoman, a novelist, a marketing director, a professor, a performer, an actress (kidding), a photographer, a surfing champ, a painter, a diva, an all-genre dancer, an interior designer, a genius and all other versions I’ve imagined of myself. But fine – there’s no way I can be everybody, that’s absolutely and regretfully understood.
I recall the main point of Dr. Meg Jay’s book, The Defining Decade. It implies that the twentysomething stage is so crucial in the sense that the decisions one makes at this twentysomething period are what would stir up all the succeeding decades of one’s life. It may not apply to everyone but it makes sense, doesn’t it? Reading that book added a lot of pressure to my self-evaluation. In fact, it got pretty scary I wanted to shred the pages to stick-thin strips and burn them all to ashes without a chance for revival. Scary because if my kindergarten teacher would come asking me again, “When you grow up, what would you want to be?”, I would only see myself laying down the cards – my many options for my future (which has now arrived as the present); one card representing each of my dream figure – and I’d stop there. “I don’t know.” Bad news is I’m most likely just a few days away to my future. Maybe even too late to figure my shit out.
Such an anxiety-infected circumstance ain’t new but is rather ironic coming from someone adored for being smart, gifted, multi-talented. That’s the picture (with no intentions to brag, just a little bit) and perhaps the problem of indecision rooted from the burden of having multiple choices. I recall an artist mom mentioned that to me and I also recall agreeing to it right then and there. My family, friends, workmates and my boss recognize my skills and it does flatter me to know so. How could I not feel grand about being praised, sometimes even overly? My heart would swell up, but true as well that the praises would oftentimes make me lose my breath – and palpitate. Maybe it’s just me, but they often come in as overwhelming I could barely handle. Then that would set me off questioning myself again, “So which one do I do best?”…”I don’t know.” But I honestly want to do all. But knowing that I just can’t, there is then the fear of missing out on all the others in favor of one. Or two.
Then there were Aristotle, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein, name the all-time geniuses. They were all over the early society, each of them an authority in almost all disciplines, the renowned in every profession. They were everybody that they wanted to be. Nah, never mind, my argument would surely come invalid though. Apparently, I’m no genius, end of story (and that’s f$@#-all-geniuses frustrating!). 😀
Now, after many times of skimming through my brain lobes, nodes and membrane – I actually just mean my thoughts – I realize I have been looking only at my dreams with the challenges prerequisite to them, but not at every possibility that could unfold like a red carpet that would lead me to my glory days. Because honestly, I doubt my own gifts. And I bow down to my fears, which is equally the same as poisoning my enthusiasm for my dreams. Of course I know all that. I apparently, have this mistaken love for my own fears.
Tomorrow I still won’t have it all figured out. But the thing I’m quite sure of is that I don’t need a time machine to go back to kindergarten and collect the answers I once had. No, that little kid didn’t know much, not even enough. Perhaps a few more twists and turns, then I’ll get myself an answer as to who I would want to be for the most part of my life.
It’s a whole new world I’m in now, totally different from my playfully colorful kindergarten. And it looks like I’m going to need a whole new set of answers.
Wish me well, folks! 🙂