Monday, December 10, 2012

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       In second grade our teacher asked my fellow classmates and I to sketch a picture of the proverbial “what you want to be when you grow up” in our journals. I happily grabbed my pencil and began to draw a girl who was wearing many hats. Literally. She simultaneously managed to don the clich├ęd beret of a French artist, a chef’s towering Dodin Bouffant, and the headgear of a submarine swimmer. Talented girl she was. Oh, and she also had five arms. One was to feel a puppy’s heartbeat with her stethoscope, another was to vigorously scribble her N.Y.Times article, another was to distribute prizes to her Preschool students, and so on.

       Unfortunately, I did not make much progress since then. I’m still a muddled chaos. The only difference between my 7 year old self and my 22 year old self is that my 7 year old self is pleasantly lodged in a time freeze. She still dwells in the rosy-cheeked, overly-optimistic universe of a child—a child living in a healthier economic minefield, thank you very much. Her 22 year old version though? Well, let’s just say that her former optimism rubbed off to reveal a bleak reality or at least a reality that requires an extraordinary amount of Godsend and effort to go anywhere.
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       How I wish I inherited the calculating acumen of a mathematician or scientist. In “this economy” (oh dear, if I say that exhausted phrase again I may have to punch a pillow—or worse), the MIT engineers are ahead of the curve, whereas the Liberal Art geeks are left to scour until our fingers plead for mercy. Well, never mind that, my dear L.A. nerds: We shall persevere and conquer! 
      Here is an overview tracking my metamorphic career preferences from the tender age of 5 until now. Maybe I AM destined to be the sloppy sketch I drew at 7; a perpetual jumble of passions, interests, and well…confusion.
The Artist and the Musician
      At the age of 5, my midnight dreams took place in a secretive oasis: MGM Studio. I wanted to be a Disney animator and that was that. Hey, I was raised in the Golden Age of Disney Classics—can you blame me? But when I visited the Met at age 8 I quickly yearned to be the next John Singer Sargent. I envisioned creating equally vivid portraits and being blessed with the ability to effectively paint shadows and light. Unfortunately though, I wasn’t able to afford the cost of art class. In spite of this, I continued to nurse my ambition. Whenever I had spare time in middle school, my fingers stretched hungrily for some charcoal and a sketchpad. Yet, “spare time” became devastatingly foreign to me during my high school years. My love affair with Art was shadowed by the continual eclipse of tedious homework and studying. In 11thgrade, Art murmured farewell with one final shuddering heartbeat. She waited for me, but I never returned. I buried her quickly. Bidding goodbye was too agonizing.
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       I was also enamored by the violin from ages 9-12. I was gifted with a violin by a generous cousin of mine. He only knew Russian and barely talked to me, but he must’ve noticed how my eyes were glued to street violinists and how they lit up when the classical station was turned on. When I received the violin, my childish heart nearly exploded with rapture. For weeks after that, all I could dream about was being the next Joshua Bell. Sadly, due to various reasons, my violin is also a relic of yesteryear. I suppose my violin was like the person you had an enormous crush on but were never meant to be with…

The Therapist and the Other
Kind of Therapist
      Conformity can be an accursed comfort blanket for adolescents. In high school, I wrapped myself in its cocoon and solemnly swore I would be a Speech Therapist (much like the majority of Brooklyn Orthodox girls). An Anatomy of Speech lecture and spittle of drool later, I realized that this couldn’t be my path. I’ll leave inspiring films on Speech Therapy to the likes of Lionel Logue (the celebrated S.T. from “The King’s Speech”).

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Lionel Logue (famed Speech Therapist from "The King's Speech)  and his wife
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       Next up on my agenda was becoming a Psychologist. Like many, I initially decided to major in Psychology because I thought I wanted to become a teacher (yes, I considered that as well). I prepared to major in Psych and then study for a Master's Degree in Education. Yet, I quickly grew more fascinated with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and almost every other quasi-pop psychology theory than teaching methodologies. I pictured myself toiling to receive my PhD in Psych. My deep intrigue with human complexity and my desire to ameliorate another’s emotional qualms compelled me to consider Psych as a career. But I soon discovered that statistics (a.k.a dreaded math!) and hard-core science were heavily involved in Psychology academia. BOO. Also, did I really want to be in school for another ten years? Er…Don’t think so.
Face and Fashion
        Yes, I even considered makeup artistry. There were days when I would greedily (and a tad obsessively) peruse “how to” makeup videos on YouTube. I took notes after I watched these videos. I still have my “makeup notebook.” Want a J-Lo glow? A smoldering Penelope Cruz eye? I can tell you how to do that! Or at least my notebook can. I called up makeup course companies. They were too expensive for what I was then able to afford. Sigh.
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And now…Well, now I kind of have a fetish for fashion. I bet you didn’t know that. Anyone have connections in Teen Vogue, Lucky, or Elle? Great. Hook me up pronto!
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From the Desk of Professor Anonymous

When I asked my professor for guidance and career advice, he responded “You can do whatever you want! You have talent. You have promise. Now, please allow me return to my 1 o' clock appointment with the tuna sandwich.” Umm…thanks?
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    In spite of my baffled self and my struggle “in this economy” (there! I punched my living room pillow…ah, feeling so much better), I take solace in this wise man’s words:
“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.”
(Baz Luhrmann from the "Sunscreen" song)

      Not that I’m pretentious enough to say that “I’m interesting,” BUT I still strive to keep Mr. Luhrmann’s words close to heart. It’s reassuring and at the end of the day one needs to be reassured. And who knows, it's Chanukah after all...Maybe I'll be blessed with a flash of crystallized clarity and a dash of good fortune. Here's to praying for a much needed miracle.


  1. I am 27, and I have no idea what I will be when I grow up.

    Like you, I am interested in a multitude of subjects: art, writing, makeup artistry, dancing, cooking, just to name a few. Every once in a while, I decide that I am going to throw myself into one of these areas. The next day I change my mind.

    I do have a college education, but I have no desire to pursue my area of studies as my career (not profitable enough for the effort).

    I do have a job, but not a career. That suits me at this point. But I hope that one day I come across an area I find fulfilling.

  2. Ok, great--I'm not the only one who feels this way. Phew! But it's great you have a job...and your blog allows for a certain kind of self-expression that your regular job may not necessarily offer (so it's good that you have The Frumanista too)Best of luck to the both of us ;)