“What do you want to be when you grow up?” The question that we were all asked as children and the answer that society makes impossible to decipher. As kids, we told those curious people that we wanted to be movie stars, astronauts, actresses, or Olympic athletes. However once we grow a bit older we are forced to believe that we must have a job that pays well regardless of how much it makes you happy. At this point in life, we are probably graduating high school, deciding a college major and choose entrepreneurship or something in the medical field. Sounds like a good way to go right? That will make grandma and grandpa proud and that will make people look at me like I have a purpose. But what about following your dreams? What about getting paid to do something that you’re extremely passionate about? What about never having to work because you love your job so much?
My whole life I wanted to be a dentist. I always loved pulling out people’s teeth in second grade and I was obsessed with keeping my teeth white. When I got braces in middle school I thought they were so cool that they made people want to smile because they love their teeth and that’s when I decided I want to be an orthodontist to make people smile every day. I proceeded to start my journey to dental school by taking some extra sciences in high school like anatomy and human biology my junior year. It wasn’t until that year that I realized that I have been wrong all along about what I want to do with my life. I hate science! Why would I put myself through six plus year of dental school when it’s all science science science?! Looks like it’s back to career-cruising just like seventh grade.
That summer I volunteered at the Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp 2015. Throughout the week, I was assigned a camper who has myotonic muscular dystrophy. His name was Steve. Steve was seven years old and could not speak. He is fed through a feeding tube five times a day, has to wear a breathing mask at night, has a suction machine for excess saliva that he is unable to swallow, has to wear diapers, and can only walk for certain periods of time. Steve communicated to me by making certain noises or pulling me in certain directions. When he wanted to cuddle, he took my head and put it on his lap to play with my hair. He loves his stroller and every time he sat in it he couldn’t go five seconds without buckling himself in and taking my waist to pull me behind the stroller signaling that he wanted me to push him around even if we were inside. I couldn’t help but be so insanely happy every time he laughed. He can’t really move his mouth and when he laughed he said “huh-huh-huh” and it would last for about fifteen minutes. He laughs at peek-a-boo games and whenever he feels strings or ribbons, he claps when he likes something, and when he sees the water he runs as fast as his little legs can until he reaches the water. He will just stand their laughing at it and every time the shore line hit his feet he would run from it. When Steve gets tired, even if he is sitting strapped in to his stroller, he will get out and insist that I hold him like a toddler. Steve made me so happy no matter how much drool dripped down my shoulder that week. This is when I decided I wanted to go into special education.
After taking some classes here at the university, involving myself in various amounts of volunteer work with Special Olympics Michigan, and spending my spring break observing teachers in the special education field, I had some second thoughts. Although I absolutely adore working with children with special needs and putting a smile on their faces and teaching them how to become their own person, I simply found that this career path would not personally make me happy when I wake up every morning. And so, towards the end of my freshmen year, I decided to shoot for the moon and become a writer.
Becoming a writer is something that I have never seen myself even considering as I grew up but it all makes so much sense now. When I was little I could always pretend I worked for a fashion magazine or a gossip magazine and I would make little PowerPoint presentations of Disney magazines and write about T.V shows that I watched or I would create outfits from stores that I shopped at and write an article about it. As I grew older I began to just associate my writing skills with research papers and essays I was assigned to in school, never really realizing that what I loved doing in my free time was writing in my journal or staying up to time on the newest trends or news going on in the world. I now think back to when I was young and self employing myself to made up magazines and think about how happy that made me. I now am a Journalism major specializing in public relations here at CMU and hope to receive an Internship with Time Incorporated someday. Maybe I will even start my career with them (hopefully). The future is full of so many crazy obstacles and possibilities but I am so excited to see where it takes me on my journey to becoming a journalist.
And so when someone asks you what you want to be when you grow up, don’t ever settle for what is going to make everyone else happy besides yourself. Always follow your heart and always dream big because if you don’t then you will never become all that you want to be. You will never wake up in the morning and never have to work a day in your life because you love what you do so much. Don’t worry about the money and don’t worry about what other people think. Just do what makes you happy and never lose sight of that!