“What do you want to be when you grow older?”

Introduction – Childhood Dreams

Corridor, Hallway, Man, Person

Walking down the corridor, I’m looking for something, I don’t remember anymore but I know I’ll know once I find it. It was at the centre of my thoughts but an hour had passed and somewhere between desire and confusion it slipped all the way to the back. Maybe I’m hungry? I’ll try the kitchen… I check the fridge, the freezer, the cupboards but nope — nothing. For goodness sake man, what was it?! I return to the corridor, there’s not much of it left to search and I’ve already checked all the rooms. Whatever, I’ll give up once I reach the end. Each step builds anticipation but ends with disappointment, my eyes dart to each corner and complete full circles like a washing machine. Right. It’s time to go. I turn back frustrated but before my feet can move I feel something crawl up my leg. Unashamedly, I scream at the top of my lungs and fight it off with flailing limbs. In the midst of my convulsion I end up, to say the least, somewhat ‘tangled’ to the point where I ended up falling face-first onto the floor. Just my luck – at least the itching has stopped. Out of the corner of my eye I see it, not what I was originally looking for but the harbinger of my most recent torment would have to do. You may call it an ant, I call it a six-legged demon in need of extermination. I snarl and pounce with blistering force but the miniature monster is too fast for me. It scurries past all of my advances and bee lines for the basement door… 

The grey gradient of neglect makes me feel unwelcome but as I walk down the stairs I realise that this is the only place in the house that I haven’t searched. Forget the ant, what I’m truly looking for may be here. I search through an assortment of boxes stacked upon each other, they vary from containing ornaments we fell out of love with, to books that belonged to a me I no longer remember. By the time I finish with the basement I’m exhausted and covered in dust. The ornaments have hand shaped-imprints from my numerous attempts to trigger the recollection I desire, the books lay strewn across the floor. I manage to crawl to one book that catches my eye, it’s duller in colour than the others and many of the pages have come loose. It’s a book I haven’t seen in years but I recognise it immediately… It’s my diary.

Writing, Journal, Personal Diary

Remember being young and feeling like you could achieve anything and everything you could put your mind to? One day you wanted to be a doctor but then you found out you’d have to study for seven years and studying sucks so you then wanted to be an astronaut so you could say thanks to the sun face to face. But to be more realistic for a second, you probably dreamed of being a singer, or a model, or a footballer. Those conventional childhood dreams. So what are you doing now?

I’ve been thinking about my childhood aspirations recently and why I haven’t achieved any of them at my current age of 19.  I know I’m still relatively young but COME ON! I WAS MEANT TO BE RICH 7 YEARS AGO! An exercise book from my primary school days brought all of this back up, the disappointment and anxiety that I may be running out of time.

The Diary

Age of 4: Footballer (soccer) – Childhood Dreams

I wasn’t a very creative kid at the beginning so anything the other kids wanted to do I was game for. And every kid wanted to be a footballer so lo and behold:

“Wen i gwow up i want be futbaler”

Sport, Leisure, Football, Ball, Rush

According to an article by the Telegraph, 90% of kids who join a Premiership academy won’t make it into the first team and most won’t make it into professional football at all. As daunting and depressing as this is – it makes sense. Sport in general is one of the most demanding career choices. It requires dedication, fitness, discipline and skills impressive enough to make you stand out in a world where millions would kill to be in your position. Then there’s the constant fear of suffering an injury that permanently ends your dreams or the realisation that the pressure was just too much for you. And with sports like these, all these fears and immense burdening pressure can be dumped on top of you before you’re even allowed to write with a pen (instead of a pencil) at school.

Image result for mbappe
Kylian Mbappe (18) could earn over £625,000 a month

So when it came down to me well, I just wasn’t very good. So no pressure or anything, I was just clever enough to say ‘peace out’, ‘adios’, ‘sayonara’, ‘au revoir’ before I humiliated myself trying. Or maybe I should have tried more? That’s what I find myself asking anytime I see footballers as young as 16 burst on to the scene. Did you know that Kylian Mbappe, the 18 year old French super-talent, has been the focal point of a record-breaking £130m transfer offer from Real Madrid? If he accepts it, his salary will increase by 900% from £71,000 to £625,000 a month. Just to put that into greater perspective for you, that’s £7.5m a year at the age of 18. Yep, it’s okay to cry I’m crying with you — don’t finish the tissues though this article isn’t over yet.

Age of 8: Writer – Childhood Dreams

“Miss said she liked my story […] I want to write the best story ever!”

Writer, Writing, Paper, Letter, Author

So after a few empty years of pure chasing after girls for no apparent reason, playing with lego and spontaneously crying when the mood hit me; something life changing threw me off course. I remember it was just like any other day only that on this day we had work to do in English class and for some reason, I was really feeling it. Like really.

My teacher, whose name I no longer remember so we’ll call her Ms. Forgettable, gave us the task of writing a short, scary story. I didn’t think of it at the time, but that’s a bit of a sordid assignment to give to little kids and is probably why I can’t watch horror movies without laughing like a pathological psychopath (thanks for that). Anyway, lucky old me thought I hit the jackpot, I had just had a nightmare the night before about some wolf-man in a mansion doing some crazy sh*t, I didn’t really have the specifics down because you know how dreams are, always full of  jump-cuts and all that; so I had to fill in the gaps.

I must have wrote like a lunatic, page after page was filled with ugly handwriting (one of my primary school teachers once told me my handwriting looked like a pigeon had stepped in ink and wiped its foot on paper) but I swear it felt like God had dropped his favourite pencil and somehow it had chosen me to be it’s keeper until he was ready to have it back. Once I was ready to hand over my masterpiece to Ms. Forgettable I did so with the most confidence I’d ever had and seeing her face light up as she read it made me feel like I had finally found my calling in life.

Books, Book Stack, Stack, Literature

It was thanks to that moment that I started to read a lot more, I stopped off at the library on the way home and made sure I always took out as many books as possible. I’m not gonna lie to you and say I read them all within the permitted lease period; but I did read them…eventually.

In a way, I owe a lot to my penmanship. I’d always been good at things but writing was the only thing I was excellent at. There were times during my education where a lot of teachers didn’t expect anything of me from first impressions as they would let’s say a pretty, Caucasian girl (to be truthfully honest) but once they read what I handed into them they were always shocked.

It got to a point where I got cocky, I’d knowingly misbehave and piss good teachers off just because I knew they would struggle to discipline someone who also impresses them. If any smart, young people are reading this — don’t do that. It took me becoming more mature and then having to sit in a classroom of people who reminded me of how I used to be to realise how many people I must have distracted and annoyed just because I was ‘having fun’.

But to cut a long story short, I still write (evidently) and I still have aspirations to be an author but it’s something you have to devote a lot of time and thought into. There’s no real rush with it: many authors are middle aged or older so spend time developing your craft and style and when you’re ready you’ll know. Personally, it came to a point where I wasn’t reading nearly as much as I used to and I felt my attention-span begin to waiver; in this digital age it’s all notifications, immediate response, wait, repeat.

I’ve been making a more conscious effort to read more and more and it really does help you to think more clearly. I found this book called How to Stop Time“>‘How to Stop Time‘ on the list of Amazon bestsellers and the name immediately stood out to me; so I bought it. It’s about a guy called Tom who ages incredibly slow (lucky guy) in so that he looks 41 but is actually something like 400 (or older, don’t quote me). He’s lived for centuries with the precaution of never falling in love — oh and there’s also his several dark, daaark secrets and the malpractices of an organisation trying to keep him, and people like him, a secret; that he’s trying to distance himself from. Matt Haig, the author, does a great job with it — that’s why it’s a bestseller– so I’ll probably review it once I’m done.

I went on a huge tangent there.

Now: A Lawyer – Childhood Dreams

Reading, Studying, Lawyer, Pastor, Black, Man, White

This is the most current aspiration of mine and one that I’m currently in conflict with. At times I’m not sure whether I’m in love with the actual subject, or the hypothetical portrait all humans have when they chase their dream and picture themselves in their picture-perfect reality. I chose to study law at university simply because, to me, it was the most English-based subject with the best prospects that wasn’t actually English. Everyone and their mother must have told me not to take English at university level because there is a lack of job prospects that will bring great monetary gains. Which is relatively true because think about it, it’s quite a limited field to the point where I can only think of being a teacher or a journalist as reasonable options.

So I opted for a subject that I knew nothing about instead of picking the one that I probably would’ve enjoyed. Do I regret it? Well I’m still doing the law degree and it’s not going too bad but it’s definitely not something I find too enjoyable. Some things are suitable for different people and memorising hundreds of case names for a 90 minute exam is my definition of torture. At times I feel like English would’ve been the better option and that maybe I made the wrong mistake. I shouldn’t do that to myself.  When I was 4 I wanted to be a footballer but I gave up on it because I didn’t think I could improve. Back then I made the mistake of underestimating myself because I believed that no matter what path I chose in life, I would achieve the success I desired (and I would’ve made my first billion at 12).

Person, Human, Guitar, Players, Joy, Sunset, Sun

One thing I didn’t really realise is that everything I did then was building my future. Running and playing around a lot helped keep me fit all my life, reading a lot helped me learn more and write better, the advanced maths my parents made me do all day was what I was learning for much of my secondary education. I can’t afford to keep switching aspirations anymore, I’m no longer sure of whether I can afford to suspend everything and develop a whole new skill that may take years. Of course I’m not telling anyone not to pursue new dreams, I’m only advising you to give your current ones a better shot. The guitar and violin are two instruments I tried to play as a kid, my guitar teacher told me I sounded ‘absolutely grotesque’ and my violin teacher asked me why I even bothered. And they were right to. I didn’t practice nearly as much as I should have but instead of trying harder and seeing it through, I took their criticism to heart and gave up when I should have prospered. Now I sit back and wonder how many girls I lost out on because I couldn’t play cheesy melodies to them… oh well.

But now here I am, studying a subject where 7% of students dropout and where only the highest grades are acceptable. I’ve got dreams that millions of people are also fighting to achieve. I’ve got a working brain, an imagination and determination to do today what millions say they will do tomorrow.

Do you?

Children, Togo, Black, Negro, African

The child-version of me left no limit to what he believed he would achieve in however many years he resided on this planet. Somewhere along the way, life got tough and what I understood to be an entitlement was really an opportunity. I gave up several times because I thought life was a circle rather than a line with intersecting paths.

Now ask me if I’m going to give up this time.

Prompt > Shallow and Deep thoughts

2 Comments on ““What do you want to be when you grow older?””

  1. Danny,
    This is quite insightful. The common human element it contains reverberates across an ocean, a gender, and several decades on the age spectrum. Your teachers were spot on about your writing talent. Apparently you’ve honed that ability for broad application – so lawyer or not (and my guess is that you’ll finish) – you have skills that will suit you if and when you decide on a change at some point down the road.
    Thanks for a very enjoyable – and motivational – read!

    1. Hi there,
      thank you so much for your kind and humbling words, I assure you that they don’t go unappreciated; and I’m very glad you enjoyed it. I hope to write more pieces like this in the future, thanks for the extra boost!
      All the best,
      -Danny

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