I Want to Be a Ballerina

“When I grow up, I want to be a ballerina.” I was completely serious when I announced that to my parents. I was also completely 4 or 5. As I grew older my ambitions changed, “I want to be an architect! An archaeologist! A model! I want to raise horses in Ireland or maybe Nova Scotia (I have no idea why)! I want to have a mustang preserve!” And my personal favorite, “I want to be a mythologist.” I shared that with my cousin who openly scoffed as he replied, “you can’t BE a mythologist. That’s not a job.” Years of schoolyard debating prepared me for this sort of fallacious yap, “Yes, you can!” but he cleverly retorted, “no, you can’t – it’s not a job.” (There was an implied “loser” hurled my way, but that phrase hadn’t yet made its way into popular speech so he may have resorted to rolling his eyes. In my defense, though I thought, if you could add “-ist” to the end of it, then it could be a job and if it couldn’t be a job it could be a line of research. Hmph.)

“I want to be a chubby middle aged girl who spends too much time online, who never leaves the house and pokes databases,” never crossed my mind as a possibility. Yet, here I am.

I look at several of my friends quite enviously – they either knew what it was they wanted to be or they didn’t lose their sense of imagination when emerging from college as supposed “adults”. My good friend Angie, whom I met in 6th grade, told me back then “I want to be a vet.” She’s a vet. Another friend said, “you know, not everyone has the ability to be a doctor, but I do – I’m going to do that.” Now she’s a doctor. Another friend writes and trots around the globe. Yes, I know, I have a severe case of “grass is always greener…”

Still, I feel that somewhere along the way I either lost my sense of imagination or faith in my abilities (or both). I went from “I want to be a ballerina” to “I’ll take any job they throw at me as long as I don’t have to leave this city.”

I’ve tried taking those tests that are supposed to help you pair up your interests with your abilities through one of the local colleges. Both times it came back “your interests and abilities are all over the map; however, you shouldn’t do anything that requires assembly lines.” It turns out I’m quite retarded at quickly and accurately handling manual tasks. So, industrial dish washer is out. Working at the Toyota factory – out. No semiconductor work in my foreseeable future either.

When I self-assess my abilities, I come back with “I’m very sarcastic”. Now why can’t there be a job that plays off my one big advantage? Surely being bitter, cynical and caustic is needed somewhere other than in the Department of Corrections (or any state agency for that matter).

So, this big vomitous ball of introspection came about after a discussion about what I’d done in my past that I enjoyed the most and how I felt a bit robbed because I can’t get back to it. I followed that conversation up earlier this week, post vacation, by announcing to a friend of mine, “I need a job that I enjoy and means something to me.” I slumped back and couldn’t think of one. “What do you like?” (That’s not an exact quote, but play along.) I feebly offered up, “well, behavioral psychology… maybe doing environmental work” and left out “going to graduate school in music” because that felt lame, but not as lame as saying “… and I want to be cool” (of course, you’d have to know what I thought was cool – a bohemian existence after time spent in the Peace Corps – something along those lines – the kind of gal who could wear a sarang over a deep tan and ride a bike with a basket and a bell who also sings back-up in a samba band).

Well, maybe it’s not too late to be a ballerina.

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