The first time I was posed with the horrid question which haunted me for the rest of my waking hours was when I was in third grade. I continue to wonder what kind of sadistic adult would wish to destroy the innocence and joys of being a child by doing so, but the damage was done. And it was always the adults who were interested in the dismal questions and the confusion it arose in my mind was like sand flying in the air as wild horses race across muddy roads.
“What do you want to do when you grow up?”
My first reply, which would soon change into everything humanely possible, ranging from clone specialist to dog-walker, was ‘astronaut’. Gazing up at stars, I wanted what seemed far and out of my reach.
After several stacked encyclopedias and glow-in-the-night stars paneling the walls of my room, ‘Detective Q’ engrossed my young and naïve mind. I used to go digging in paper bins looking for clues to mysteries yet to happen. So I wanted to become a really ‘cool detective’- with a golf hat and a magnifying glass.
As I crossed my ‘Harry Potter’ years (the fandom still occasionally resurfaces), I landed in the debating club of high school. As I flourished there, suggestions of becoming a lawyer poured into my clueless mind and it didn’t seem like a poor option: high powered careers of those women in smart suits and black shoes which clicked as they walked raising storms.
But eventually, having taken science subjects, I ended up with engineering on my plate- it seemed like a very safe bet. There was but one wild tantrum I threw- I was never given a real chance to pick what I wanted to study and I said I wanted to study medicine. But the cries and pleas were dismissed that it was my addiction to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘House M.D’ speaking. While I continue to marvel at the wonders of diagnostic medicine, I squirm at the sight of blood and hospital smell has me running a mile in the opposite direction.
As I come close to graduating, the question is posed once more. “What next?”, which makes me wonder why there isn’t a law against asking questions which cause people sometimes to run around in circles and sometimes off a building top. But this time around, I am determined not to harbor any images and in the seconds I took to write this particular line, I have thought about writer, politician and linguist as a career.
Why did we never have a course on ’How to pick your career’ among all the subjects we intensely studied? A career carnival wasn’t adequate to equip us with dealing with the mental stress that follows once we hear that question. And don’t even dare suggest- find what you’re passionate about. I am one of those unfortunate ones who doesn’t have a life-changing dream which suddenly lights up one single road shrouding the others in darkness. Instead, I have different dreams every night- very colorful ones, too!
So I shall keep swimming through life. It doesn’t matter that the direction is not very clear. Maybe along the way while I continue learning everything I come across as even mildly interesting, I will know where to stop. On the other hand, even if I never stop, it wouldn’t be quite as bad!