Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I saw the phrase "Remember What You Wanted to Be" one day on a bumper sticker and I immediately burst into tears. It wasn't because the thought was particularly sweet or moving, but because I literally couldn't remember what I wanted to be. There was something so epically tragic about not remembering your childhood dreams, perfect fodder for some kind of Lifetime Original Movie. "Forgotten Innocence," they'd call it. Or maybe "Hushed Dreamings." I asked my parents if I ever expressed an interest in a certain career path at a young age. My mom's answer was, "Well, you probably did, but you were the last of four kids so I don't think I was paying attention." Thanks, Ma.

I was seriously upset about this. I didn't remember wanting to be anything. I envisioned children playing sports and dreaming of being pro athletes, and I teared up. I saw kids who incessantly played 'school' with their dolls or relished any chance they could find to sing or dance in front of people, and I envied them. I even felt a pang of jealousy toward the dweeby kindergartener who wanted to be something absurd, like a unicorn or a dragon. At least they had dreams, visions of being something great and doing something they loved.

In my reflections, I eventually got over my melodrama of not having this childlike ideal of what I wanted to be, and I realized that the intent of the bumper sticker probably had more to do with childhood simplicity than actual future career paths. Remembering what you wanted to be is in essence remembering your childhood, or at least remembering a simpler time. It's a return to that stage of our lives where our dreams were unfettered by thoughts of money, responsibility, prestige, or even practicality, where we only wanted to do what we loved and couldn't see any reason why we shouldn't.

But, I am not a child. I am not unfettered, and I am bombarded by reasons why I should not do what I love. These reasons have, for the past four years, tied me to a job I did not love and a list of daily tasks that had nothing to do with what I wanted to be. Well, today I proclaim to you, World Wide Web, that those reasons are fluff. They are flurries. They blow around us and make us cold and miserable and frighten us into thinking we should stay off the roads just in case they turn into something solid, something real. But just as sure as a Nashville snowstorm rarely materializes, so too the reasons are, more often than not, flurries.

Today, I journeyed out of my safe and warm place and into the flurries. I quit. My job, that is. I walked away from the security and the certainty and into an already accumulating pile of debt and a whole lot of unknowns. And you know what? From the outside, I can see now that my safe and warm place was never safe. It was never warm. It was dangerous and painful and dark and cold and numb and it will never be worth what it cost me. And now, here I stand, in the sunlight that was literally hidden from me in my windowless box-within-a-box-within-a-box, and I am warm. I have someone who loves me and will stick with me through anything, and I am secure. And I know that I am taking a risk that I will never regret. Of that, I am certain.

I still don't know what I wanted to be, or really what I want to be in the present tense. I do have some ideas, however, so I'm moving to New York City in a month to see if I'm on the right track. I hope you'll join me, World Wide Web, on my journey to remembrance (another good Lifetime title). And who knows? Maybe along the way you'll remember what you wanted to be too. But if you find out you wanted to be a unicorn or a dragon, do us all a favor and put that out of your head straightaway. That's just plain silly, and you know it.