"What do you want to be when you grow up?" Mrs. Crist asks her 2nd grade class.
Megan in the pink dress next to me giggles. "A princess, of course!" she replies with all smiles.On my last birthday, my mama had asked me what I had wished for as I blew out the candles on my cake, and when I told her I had wished for a puppy, she told me I was wrong. Very wrong. As she placed my birthday present, a white gold necklace with a heart-shaped locket, on my neck, she told me that being a lawyer should be the wish of every girl.
I asked her, 'Why?'
She said, 'Because it was my dream when I was younger.'
I didn't answer because I did not know what a lawyer was.
Then it's my turn. "I want to be a lawyer." The class grew silent. None of the kids knew what a lawyer was.
I hear the question again in my 4th grade class - "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I nearly jump out of my seat with enthusiasm, I feel collected and cool about my idea- I certainly know what I want to be. I grin and raise my hand high in the air. I start off, "A lawyer -" A couple seats behind me, a girl interrupts by saying "ew". I turn around and glare at her before I finish my sentence, "- because my mama told me so."
The class grows silent. No one thinks that I'm a fun person for saying that. I start wondering if I have said the wrong thing. The teacher gives me a dry smile, as if she doesn't believe me. I smile back the best I could, with my fingers locked around my locket; but truthfully I want to cry. No one seemed to like my lawyer idea. And then we moved on to Jonas next to me. He wants to be an astronaut and fly in space with the monkeys. The teacher and class laugh with pleasure. I do, too.
My 6th grade class bustle out the door on a cool, fall day. Maybe because they're excited for lunch? No, because it's Career Day. I've heard stories about it- about all the fun-packed stalls with games to try and stories to hear from professional adults. But I don't hustle past the stalls to look at brochures along with everyone else, because I knew what I wanted to be. A lawyer. I jog around to find a stall that had information about being a lawyer while my locket bounced up and down upon my chest, but I don't see any. I glanced at my fellow classmates buzz excitedly about this and that, and I long for the excitement that they feel. But my mama had told me there was only one path for me, and I believe her. There's always a reason behind her actions.
I need help writing my 8th grade essay on my future for my English class. All I know is that I want to be a lawyer. My teacher comes over and asks, "Well, what helped you make this decision?" I reply, "I'm not sure." She tells me to think about that first. I begin my first paragraph with:
I have always wanted to be a lawyer because...
I don't know how to finish that sentence. I can say because my mama told me so, but that ending wouldn't lead my essay far at all. I sit and think, and contemplate the factors that attracted me to such a career. None.
After school, I sit idly and think in my room for two hours. The essay's due tomorrow and I haven't even finished the first sentence.
Hours later, I have given up on the essay. Instead, I decide to pull out my favorite musical, "Rent", for inspiration. I love the way my favorite character Mimi dances and sings like the living definitions of "grace" and "beauty". She astounds me. She's the reason I've been begging for dance and music lessons for years; but my mama tells me that those classes are nonsense. She doesn't believe in "that sort of stuff". So I listened to her.
I stand up and start to dance my way across the living room, imagining myself in a pretty red dress designed especially for me. But I stop abruptly when my necklace with the locket starts to choke me; it's getting too small for my neck. I sigh; oh, how I yearn to be Mimi!
Wait, that's it! I want to be Mimi; I want to be a dancer more than anything else in the world! I sit down straight away and begin:
I have always wanted to be a dancer like Mimi.
I sit down with my counselor at my high school to discuss my sophomore year's schedule. I scan down the booklet of class options and I can imagine how my face must've lit up as I saw the option "dance class". The counselor chuckles and pats my back. "Good choice", he says.
I run home to my mama, so she can sign the sophomore schedule's form officially. She glances at it, and does a double take. "Why are you taking dance? And where is the law and society class I told you to take?" she demands. I sigh; I have prayed that she wouldn't notice. I tell her I want to be a dancer.
I cry. She won't stop yelling. All I keep hearing from her is, "You're throwing your dream away!"
As I'm on the verge of losing my voice, I tell her, "I never knew why I wanted to be a lawyer. Now I know. It's because it's your dream. I'm throwing your dream away." And that was the truth.
Late that night, I finally part with my necklace and locket. I feel wave of relief. It was getting too small for me anyway.