When I Grow Up I’m Going To Be…???


When I was a little girl I thought I would grow up to be a princess but in retrospect I realize this was more my mother ‘s dream than mine.  It also became clear that she was the only one who thought I was princess material. My brothers and sisters were repulsed by the  notion of ‘me as princess’ and actively discouraged it with various techniques known to families as ‘sibling torture’. This was enough to convince me to pursue another course so I chose the next best thing to princess which was that I would become a ‘stewardess’.  The position seemed to have a kind of elegant gravitas that I was drawn to and my mother told me it was almost the same thing as being part of the ‘jetset’ as she called it.


But then reality set in and I realized that being a stewardess required flying and serving others neither of which suited my disposition. I suffered from terrible motion sickness and preferred being served rather than serving.


So I set my sights with my mother’s approval on becoming a ‘dancer/actress/ movie star’. Why not?. I enrolled in ballet class, took theatre in high school and auditioned for every theatre production possible.But the best laid plans are often put to rest when no real talent exists and when  Mrs. Gigg’s, my ballet teacher,  sunk her treacherous, spidery hands into my ample waistline and declared (loudly)  to the class that I was ‘doughy’., my dreams flew out the window.So  I picked myself off the floor and eagerly set my sites on the role of ‘serious actress’.

When it became evident that my talent would land me nothing greater than reading the  morning announcements at school (while Siobhan Duffy sang and danced her way through every high school production) that I decided to re-invent myself as a writer.


“What are you going to be?” people” would ask. “A writer.” I would say. “What have you written? ” “Nothing”, I would answer unblinkingly. At that point in my life it was far less about the writing than it was about looking like a writer. I had long hair to my shoulders and I wore a long black cape which I felt gave me a mysterious and writerly air.  I scratched unfathomable notes at parties (always while people were looking)  and wrote tortured poetry which I read out loud on Friday nights to my biggest fan, my mother..

By the time I graduated from high school I had forgotten that I was going to be a writer. I liked to write but the idea of ‘being’ a writer was left behind by my new found passion for justice and fighting for the underdog  Now I wanted to be a lawyer. So I applied to university and entered a history program. That I didn’t have a logical, tactical, aggressive,  bone in my body didn’t deter me from throwing myself into saving the world. In the seventh year of my Bachelor of Arts (that’s right seven) I decided that I would complete my degree in History and English, forget about law and move to Japan to find myself.


Shortly after my return from Japan I remember phoning my best friend and in a moment of utter frustration and weakness begged her to tell me what I should be. “Just tell me” I said. “I’m begging you. Just tell me what I should be and I’ll be it.” No surprise she had no real answer for me so I continued on my erratic path of just living and not really knowing. “You’re a butterfly”, my mother would tell me. Or a “tumbleweed” as a colleague recently called me.

I finally did settle on something that I probably could have figured out to from the beginning but life doesn’t really work that way. I was infused with a desire and a dream to be something grand  because the world is unlimited and anything is possible especially when you’re young. I still feel anything is possible and I’m still a ‘butterfly’ as my mom calls me but my ambition  these days is to love every small moment in my life and the people in it. That dream for something other hasn’t died but it has been transformed into something more real that I grasp. I’m good with that. I love where I am



Filed under Random Musing

5 responses to “When I Grow Up I’m Going To Be…???

  1. Wow – this is a great post. I didn’t want it to end – you sure can write Princess Tess!

  2. Joan of Arc

    Love this piece….vignettes of our familiar journey toward the lightness of being. You took it in stride.

    Not me. Defiance was (is) my middle name, while I was being encouraged to become a professional actor, it meant nothing to me. I can still see my theatre teacher ina state of rapture, telling me that I should become an actor. Phffff… I wanted to be an ‘artiste’. Looks like that much I managed, the starving part rather well indeed.

    Yours truly, Joan of Arc

    • Thanks Joan. I think we’re many things at all stages of our life. My guess is that this transformation will continue for both us well into old age! xo

  3. lovely post. I think the most interesting people are the ones who just live life – instead of being on some PATH. (They generally aren’t very happy on that path). I am glad you are taking your as it comes to you. It sounds like you’ve had some very interesting adventures because of it.

    (I love the images of a little Tessa with all her different ideas on what to be)

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