When I Grow Up

ollie_small10The other day I was going through a box of old papers and I found a few homework assignments from my magazine writing class in college. Among the articles I’d written was one I had crafted for our class magazine project “Quarterlife.” My chosen topic? “Thinking Outside the Cubicle: Alternatives to Being Just Another Office Jockey.”



How ironic that, at 20 years old, I was already desperate for an alternative to office life. So much so that I had interviewed a bunch of people who had gone in the “alternative” direction- a wedding photographer, a flight attendant, a media consultant who worked from home, an organic farmer. I must’ve known that there would come a time, a time before my novels started selling and my real career started, when I would have to seriously contemplate choosing that job I dreaded, the one with endless stacks of paperwork, fluorescent lighting and Hawaiian Shirt Friday.

Maybe it’s not such a coincidence that I found that article now, as I sit here, day after day, sifting through the meager list of available jobs on Craigslist and trying to brush up on my Excel skills. Maybe it’s time to go back to basics, to talk to that 20 year old me. I’ll put myself in a kindergarten class, cross my legs Indian-style and close my eyes until the question comes my way. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

That’s not really the problem though. I know the answer to that question. The trickier one is that second question. “If you already know what you want to do when you grow up, what do you do in the meantime?” How will you pay the bills? How will you pay your parents back? And the government for all that unemployment money you’ve been cashing? How will you fill your days in a way that doesn’t make you want to cry when you wake up in the morning? That makes the beginning of Joe Vs. The Volcano look like paradise.

What did you want to be? What do you want to do now? I’m open to suggestions.

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3 Responses to When I Grow Up

  1. Kari says:

    Oh, Ollie. I want someone to pay me to write sitcoms. I want to sit in a writers’ room full of smart, funny people and think and laugh and eat and argue and learn and be challenged every day. Until that happens, which is possibly never, I will eat through project management or answering somebody’s phones or running somebody’s errands. Because I like to eat, and no rich man has yet offered me the moon and the stars, and I’m not sure I would take it if he did. (Unless: George Clooney, let’s talk.)

    Growing up is maybe not in the cards for me.

  2. thecreme says:

    Sounds like a pretty great dream to me, Kari.

    As for me, I want to run a creative business, I want to write for a living, I want to be a college professor. I’m currently making strides in all three areas, so I supposed I should be happy with myself. Someday it will happen! I appreciate your natural ability to dance outside the box, Ollie.

  3. Karen says:

    Growing up and settling down is over-rated! I totally had a ‘quarter-life crisis’ (their term, not mine), went back to school, and switched careers. Haven’t looked back since! Not that my current job is perfect, obviously not, but that’s what keeps us trying new things, right?!!

    Good luck in your search for the answers 🙂

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