Three Year-Old Ambitions

September 20, 2007
By Beth Anne Hendrickson, Springfield, MO

Other kids in my morning preschool class fantasized of becoming astronauts, Presidents of the United States, police officers, or other professionals equally as grand. Yet as a preschooler, I was excessively ambitious when it came to predetermining my chosen career that would ultimately decide who I would be in life. I didn’t settle for the cut-and-dry, typical careers. Instead, I veered off the overly-trampled “sensible” path to the one of wacky and sometimes made-up on the spot professions.
Of course at that time, I was more interested in something that sounded cool and would, in accordance to my three year-old estimation, make me happy. This is why I made up my very first occupation dream, which was a Professional Ice-skater Paleontologist. Paleontology would suffice as the back-up, concrete job of my multi-dimensional career because, while I had no particular interest in the study of dinosaurs, I did like to find and pick up the rocks with pretty fossils on them. Plus, I calculated that being a paleontologist would not interfere with my skating aspirations. Even though I had never been ice-skating before, I had seen the figure skating events in the Olympics, and I did like to roller skate. Thus, it only made perfect sense for me to be able to master the art of figure skating quite rapidly. The single significant flaw I found with this was that there was not an ice-skating rink anywhere near us at that time. I hoped in anticipation of there one day being such a facility in town, but this did not actually happened until about eight years later. So in the mean time, I focused on paleontology.
A couple of years later, in the first grade, we were assigned to draw a picture and describe what we wanted to do when we grew up. Something off of an episode of “Reading Rainbow” had then recently inspired me: I’d seen the host explore a cave with a guide. They got to wear special hats that had built-in flashlights! “Wow,” I thought to myself, “that cave guy must have the coolest job ever.” So, I booted out the notion of being a paleontologist and looked into something else. This new something, as described to my teacher, was a “person who goes down into caves and looks at stalactites and stalagmites.” She actually knew what I was referring to and told me this was called a “spelunker,” which made the role sound much more official to my young ears. Even with this new occupational wave, I still held dearly to my intentions of simultaneously being an ice-skater while spelunking.
Second grade brought on new territory. I dropped all previous intentions of half and half career directions after a fieldtrip to an architectural firm where I became intent on becoming an interior designer. This decision was made chiefly on the observation of all the paint splotches and wallpaper samples the designers got to dabble with. Yet this fetish lost its sparkle and floated to the back of my mind when I began writing stories about a cat named “Fluff-Bukit” (pronounced “Fluff Bucket) in hopes to someday become a writer. Even still, this never panned out because in my accounts of him, the cat did nothing more than jump rope with his friends while engaging in tiresome dialogue or eat popsicles.
Third grade was basically dead as far as thinking of new ideas for my life. However, I changed my goals yet again when I loosened into the idea of being a future racecar driver, and I still have no idea why or how I planned on reaching this goal. Even so, I eventually put all my gusto into this scheme just as I had done for the others. Fourth grade, on the other hand, brought on an epidemic of curiosity remedied only by the “Medical Years,” which were the subsequent years of my interest in being a doctor or other medical professional. This consisted of me exploring an immense number of options in the medical field after a nurse came and talked to our class at Career Day. I had not narrowed it down yet, but I wanted to be something between a cruise line nurse on a ship and a doctor venturing to aid poverty-stricken jungle people. As soon as I had one medical job picked out, I’d discover another with more pizzazz and would run towards that instead. The ferocious pattern of changing my mind for something totally opposite was continuing and was evidently infinite.
Another instance of a career grouping was brought on during the home stretch of that year and lasted slightly into middle school while overlapping with the Medical Years. It was known as my “Creative/Artistic Phase” (or at least, an attempt at being artsy). In no particular order and in various combinations, I indulged in thoughts of being a clay bead and sculpture artist while I experimented with various brands of clay, a dessert chef who designed the presentation of fancy dishes with the use of drizzled chocolate, a photographer, and a full time scrapbook maker and supplies dealer. In the last mentioned career I was seriously dedicated. I had all of the brochures on how to become a scrapbook consultant and I was really hoping to begin this career by about 11 years of age. My thought process was that it would begin as an after school job and build up from there. In addition to these newfound careers, the interior designer in me was also resurrected and was supplemented with redesign T.V. shows like “Trading Spaces.” I altered my thinking so many times on the subject of my future that all of these interests and ideas started running together in my head. I wanted to do them all at once! Of course, I could not, so I had to keep adjusting my desired career choice. Instead of worrying about which choice I should pursue, I remember thinking, “hey, if none of this works out I can always just go to med school.” So that settled any doubts as I coasted into my future that has since become the present, and now the past.
Right now, I still don’t know exactly what I will do or become, and I have realized that I didn’t actually know back then, either. I do know that I want to be as far away from ice-skating, paleontology, and everything in between as possible. These big, motivated intentions and plans throughout my young life really got me nowhere. I guess you could say my preschool and childhood dreams were crushed, but this is probably for my own good. Even still, I’m glad I got to experience so many interests in different areas. Who knows, maybe this, in some small way, made a positive impression on the person I am today. After all ambition, in smaller servings, can at times be very good.

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