Determined faces all around me scratch out their life plans as though they are writing the Code of Hammurabi. It is as though everyone has their lives set in stone, with the number of kids, the kind of dog, and the style of house they will have one day. I gaze at my paper and the blue parallel lines crisscross and swirl. No ideas even scratch the surface of my brain about what I will be when I grow up.
Alive, I want to be alive. There, that’s a start. Satisfied that I have made some progress, I take a break and survey the room. I catch the words “lawyer” and “ever since I could walk.” Now, I panic, I have no idea what I want to be. I’m going to be poor. My child will paint himself silver and “do the robot” to make money on the street corner. It was not always like this. At one time, I had an idea.
When I was little, I thought I wanted to work with animals. I told myself I wanted to be a veterinarian, and believed it. It also came in handy when I was the show pony as a child. Adults would always ask the same question and I had an answer. Why do adults casually mock anyone shorter than three feet tall by asking that question? I want to be an organized crime leader, okay? Now, hand over the pacifier. That would have wiped the smiles off their faces, though that option is looking better every day due to my indecision.
Now that I have realized that being a vet is not for me, I have to think of other options. I don’t know what I want to be, but I have some ideas on what careers would not work. I couldn’t be a dentist. Staring into kids’ mouths with candy-corn teeth and the eternal screech of the drill like an elementary-school class watching “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is not my idea of a good living.
No day care, either, I’m all for low-blood sugar for little kids. I hear acupuncture brings in a lot of pretty, pretty money, but I’d hate to see what I would do to my clients on a bad day. I could probably land myself a job at a windowless Wal*Mart where the fluorescent lights glare and the linoleum shines. Working under burning lights for a fraction over minimum wage would transform my surroundings into Salvador Dali surrealism. If I were a weatherman, I’d have to bribe a ground hog, and I am not sure how to do that. I can’t list all the other jobs that would collide with my personality, but I am pretty sure about what does not fit.
At this time, I don’t think my calling in life is loud enough for me to hear. Maybe as my interests develop, it will grow louder. I am not completely clueless. Whether I’ll be a journalist, a musician or a dolphin trainer, I know it is really important and cannot be decided in ten minutes for an English essay. And I am not worried either, I have time.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.