Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What I Wanted to Become

I was leaving the polls after voting, when a bumper sticker caught my eye. It is Election Day, people, and, if there's something, anything to vote on in your town, you should go vote. We live in America! It's your democratic duty. In my town of 10,000, I was number 196 to cast my ballot. And I was the only one in the room with more brown hair than gray. Vote.

Back to the issue at hand... The bumper sticker read: "Remember What You Wanted to Become." The message struck me, and has been sticking with me all day.

First, since I had just voted, I thought about idealism and political involvement from the first time Americans get to vote. How does the saying go? "If you're young and a Republican, you have no heart. If you're old and a Democrat, you have no brain." Something like that... Is my bias showing? Anyway, I remember being a freshman in college when Bill Clinton was elected. I was living in the Liberal La-La Land known as Madison, Wisconsin. Without really knowing what it was, I signed up as a member of WISPIRG, Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, though after a meeting or two I soon figured out it wasn't for me. I also signed up for a "science" course where the "textbook" was Al Gore's book.

Unlike my husband, who considers politics one of his main interests, that has never been the focus for me. I vote based on issues of morality, humanity, and what's best for all people, whether they like it or not. Hey, I think that's the way I parent, too.

So, then, this bumper sticker message made me think more of my childhood, of my dreams and professional aspirations, "what I want to be when I grow up." By the time I was in high school, I already knew I wanted to go into journalism, particularly broadcast. First, I wanted to be Barbara Walters. Then, I learned she had basically slept her way to the top. Then, I wanted to be Oprah Winfrey. But I wasn't black. Then, I went to college, where a professor told me I was a good writer and a good speaker but I looked like an 11-year-old boy, so I should find a job not in front of the camera. I tried to get an on-air job, anyway. My talent outshone my looks and I finally got a boss to let me go on air, but, when I looked at video of myself, I thought I looked like an 11-year-old boy, too, and I hated wearing makeup everyday. Plus, I really liked to boss people around, and to be responsible for entire shows instead of singular stories. So, the dream evolved, but I was still being what I wanted to become.

Recently, Todd and I had a discussion about what it means to be a "success" or a "failure." I asked him: "Which person has it right: Is it the one who has a dream, and continues to pursue it throughout a lifetime, no matter the obstacle, no matter the level of talent; or is it the one who has a dream, realizes it is not to be, and changes the goal to something more appropriate and/or attainable?" Anyone who knows Todd will not be surprised to learn he had arguments to support both sides... He truly sees the best in people.

I consider myself a professional success, though I also consider that profession to be behind me. I cannot call myself a success or a failure at parenthood... Can any of us? I do know, however, when it comes to raising my children, I will always remember what I want them to become-- and they'll know it, too. It's not about what kind of job they'll have, where they'll live, whether they'll get married or have kids. It's about who they are and who they will become. I want my kids to always remember: I am doing my best to raise them to be good people.

"Remember What You Wanted to Become." Something to think about.

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