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Frosty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

The old home video starts, and once again I'm transported to a world where I couldn't see above most people's knees. We're only three; the world we live in is huge and in our heads it's even bigger. A grown-up asks us that question, the favorite of nearly every older person: “What do you girls want to be when you grow up?” My cousins shout out a string of precious answers: a princess, a movie star, a veterinarian. And when it's my turn, I smile into the camcorder and tell them what I want to be: Frosty the Snowman.

It's a story that comes up a lot these days, as college looms closer and closer and the question of what we want to do with our lives becomes more realistic, less fantastic. My family laughs at the memory, my confidence in a goal so impossible and absurd. I smile along. But I've come to realize that Frosty the Snowman is not only a legitimate answer, but also a firm statement of my values.

Of course, aspiring to be Frosty is unrealistic; I see little chance of trading my torso for a ball of snow any time soon. But it's that impossibility that makes the answer so wonderful. Anyone can marry a prince, make a hit movie, or go to veterinary school, but how many can change forms entirely, transforming into something enchanting and new? I'm proud to say that I set my sights high, even in childhood.

And who wouldn't want to be just like Frosty? Frosty knows how to live. In that song that we've repeated ­mindlessly since childhood, Frosty finds himself in a situation of impending doom. It's a hot day and Frosty knows that his time is running out. But he doesn't just throw himself a pity party while the remainder of his pancreas melts in pools around his feet. Instead, Frosty makes a conscious decision to make his last moments count, and he tells the children, “Let's run and we'll have some fun now before I melt away.” Frosty provides a stunning example of living for the here and now, not wasting your life worrying about an inevitable crisis. It's a lesson that many adults fail to grasp but I understood when I was three.

And Frosty's most admirable quality is revealed in the first line of his song: “Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul.” He's not identified by his occupation, age, or criminal record; Frosty is defined by his happiness. It doesn't matter what Frosty does; it's all in the way he does it.

Our preconceived notions of what we want to do give us a skewed focus from the beginning. We're taught to base our lives around an eventual destination before we learn to read, from the first time we're asked. But Frosty knows that it doesn't matter if you end up wearing an old silk hat and your eyes are made of coal; what counts is that you found contentment and satisfaction along the way. My answer shows that I was, quite possibly, the wisest three-year-old ever.

Or maybe I just didn't understand the question.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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BlueJay888 said...
Aug. 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm:
Well written!! And a very hopeful insight that really applies to college-age (ughh such life-changing disappointments) people now, even if Frosty the Snowman was originally just for kids ;)  Great job!!
 
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