What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

Remember when we were kids and someone asked us what we wanted to become when we were grown up? I bet each of us had a pretty fantastic list of future careers when we were kids. I think I had dreamt of being a railway engine once! And I always used to tell my parents that when I grew up I would buy them red shoes, red clothes, a red house, a red car and lots of other red stuff. Why red? God (and probably my long-lost kid self) only knows. Never did I think of sitting at a desk for twelve hours, looking at a LCD screen, as a future career. Of course, to be honest, when we were growing up, a software engineer’s job was pretty much out of our vocabulary. But that’s besides the point. What I want to say is that when we were kids we never envisaged a dull future for ourselves. Our dreams jobs were exciting, inspired by the heroes and heroines of our childhood. How I wanted to climb an Enchanted Tree or solve mysteries like the Famous Five or even Nancy Drew!

Today I am a software engineer along with a million others. I am a part of a crowd so huge that it is only too easy to lose myself. We crib about our work, our salary, our working hours day in and day out. yet, whether out of choice or out of necessity, we work long hours, 5 (sometimes even 6 or 7) days a week and look forward to the weekend like a small kid awaits Christmas Day. Life is scheduled around Excel sheets and conference calls. A friend is having a party on Friday evening? Hmm, the conference call will get over by 8.30 pm so should be able to drop in by 10.30 pm. The doctor can see me only on Tuesday afternoon? Damn it, will need to find someone to cover for me and send out the status sheet that day. Even chatting with your significant other is fraught with complications. If you call up and s/he doesn’t pick up the call or simply disconnects, it means s/he is busy with something. And we go on like this, day after day, month after month, year after year.

So what happens to those exciting childhood dreams and ambitions? Do they get locked up in a dark recess of our mind and one day the key becomes so rusted that it cannot open the lock ever again? Or do these dreams revisit us at times, reminding us of those carefree days when a dream job was not influenced by factors like salary and inflation? And what is our reaction when our dreams do revisit us? I know what I do. I put on my rose-tinted glasses, look upon the past with a fond smile and then, with a sigh, take off the glasses again. And I know it’s not only me; most people do the same. But once in a while a dream comes along which does not seem childish any more, a dream which tantalizes from behind the shadows, urging us to step out of the sunlight and explore in the dark once more. So what do you do then? Do you close your eyes and take a leap of faith, much like you would have done in your childhood had the opportunity presented itself to you back then? Or do you choose to stick to the well-travelled path where failure can be virtually eliminated by way of experience?

We become adults (but very often, not grown-ups) and we study engineering, medicine, accountancy or something else. Some of us are brave enough to take up their dream jobs rather that opting for a job that fulfils their dreams. I did not belong to the second category. But now I want to pursue my dreams. Now I want to be a writer when I grow up. And what do you want to be?

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