+ By Emma Mudan Harrigan Campbell
Over the course of eight years, I have switched career paths constantly. My first idea was to become a singer, then a dancer, and then an actor—maybe even all three at once. I liked how people would occasionally compliment me on my voice when I sang, and I figured why stop there?
I wanted to become someone great, someone who changed the world; mainly through theatrics. Then I switched to a more political standpoint and thought about being a lawyer. My mother said I would make a good lawyer since I manage to avoid questions by not directly answering them.
Today, I aspire to be a writer, any sort of writer—an author, a journalist, a blogger, anything. This was the doing of my third grade teacher, who read a short story I wrote out loud and said, “If this girl doesn’t become a writer, I don’t know who will.” The underlying connection between all of these jobs is that someone else told me I could be them. That I would be “good” at singing, or a “talented” writer. But, the idea of choosing something based on what other people say doesn’t appeal to me. Yes, I want to be a writer, but is it for the right reason?
“Do what you love, love what you do.” I found this quote while trying to break my writer’s block for an English essay. It may be cheesy and overused, but I think there is more importance to it than just a saying on a hand towel. When most people read this, the first thing they think of is their career. Why is that? I think it is because we automatically correlate the verbs “do” and “be” with a job. When someone asks, “What do you want to be?” People tend to say their future or current career choice. I have never heard someone respond with an emotion or a nontangible idea.
Pondering this, I found my answer for what I want to be when I grow up. Instead of choosing a potential job that will change time and time again, I need a long-term plan. In the course of one lifetime, I want to be happy. Realizing this, the question, “What do you want to be?” might not provide the correct platform for my answer, “I want to be happy.” Maybe the appropriate question for this answer is, “How do you want to exist?” When I “grow up” I want to exist happily. Although it sounds simple, I can imagine it probably won’t be as easy to carry out. There will be highs and, there will be lows. I plan to take on the lows with a smile as my sword, and with the knowledge that I will make it out alive. Maybe I will become a writer, or maybe I won’t. Whatever I choose career wise, I know it will be because I am happy doing it.
About the Writer: Emma is 13 years old and lives in Annapolis.