You know how when you’re younger and everybody older than you tells you that you’ll be a whole different person when you grow up, and you scoff and secretly think they don’t know anything because of course you’ll be the same person with the same thoughts and the same goals? Okay, well, everybody older than you is right. For the most part. Some things they’ll get wrong, like when they tell you you’ll turn out to be racist or that you’ll want kids someday (both of these things have been told to me, btw). But basically, they’re right when they say that you change as you get older, and as much as I can feel 13-Year-Old Me rolling her eyes right now, I am at least a 70% different person now than I was when I was that age.
Case in point:
When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress. Probably a little bit because I had a vivid imagination and probably also a little bit because I was an excellent liar, and hardly at all because I wanted to be famous, because the Internet didn’t really exist back then so I had so real concept of what “famous” or “infamous” really meant. Actually, if I had to nail it down, I’d say that I wanted to be an actress so that I could impress Jonathan Brandis, which, when you think about it, is a lot more sane than the guy who shot Ronald Reagan because he wanted to get Jodie Foster’s attention. Just so you know.
It took literally years of begging my parents to let me audition for a community theater production, and this begging was difficult because a) they repeatedly told me that I probably wouldn’t even get a part* and b) they didn’t want to drive me anywhere. Somehow, though, I got them to drive me to some audition in Kirkwood, where the first of what would turn out to be many humiliations happened when some snotty 14-year-old girl asked for my resume.
“My resume?” I asked, considering following that with “Yesss…I have a resume. It’s in the car. Let me go get it,” and then running to the parking lot and never coming back.
Instead, I said “Are you serious? I’m twelve.” Because come on. This was suburban St. Louis and a high school sophomore wrote the play and I was twelve. Who the fuck would have a resume for that situation?
Turns out, a lot of people. Like, almost everyone but me. Even then, I realized that this experience would sour me on acting for the rest of my life, because you know what? Actors are fucking crazy. And kid actors? They are lunatic weirdos with either psychopath parents or just horribly developed attention complexes. I had no idea what being famous was or that I wanted something like it, but these other kids knew. They were nuts for it. While I spent my non-school time playing sports, reading books, and having real life friends, these kids were going to voice, dance, and improv lessons. They had professional headshots. They all lived in West County. Simply put, I was out of my league, and all of them knew it.
To this day, I have no idea how I got a part in that play, or, based on the other kids’ treatment of me (which ran from being totally ignored to asking if I bought my clothes from Goodwill at a time before thrifting was cool), how I didn’t just quit sometime during the month and a half of rehearsals. I didn’t know yet that drama club kids were dorks and that one day, I’d roll my eyes at the people who cried every day in the cafeteria because, I don’t know, their burger had once been cow-murdered, so I mostly just sat there quietly and nursed a crush on a Jesus freak who I now think was probably very, very gay.
I casually perused the audition section of the RFT a few times after this play, but I was no longer interested enough in acting to do anything about it. Eventually this slight interest faded, and I went back to my original plan to become an archaeologist. Which, um, never happened, but at least reading about archaeology is more interesting than People magazine.
Today, I realized fully that my once burning desire to be an actress had disappeared, because as I was driving home from the grocery store, I noticed a large box truck on Fremont with traffic cones around it and a crowd of people gathered on the sidewalk.
“Please let it be a food truck, please let it be a food truck,” I thought, as I slowed the car.
Passing the box truck, I noticed a number of lights, set pieces, and camera equipment. It was not a food truck. It was a film set. I didn’t care about a film set. I wanted tacos, or bibimbap, or a falafel.
“Goddammit,” I said and pressed the gas to get home.
Because sometimes your dreams die, and you will always change. This is okay, because not only is it natural, but also nobody else got to be famous, either, and most of them seem like dicks when I stalked them on Facebook.
*A lot of parents of my generation — particularly the Catholic ones — were like this, actually. While today’s parents practice what Jen calls “insubstantial helicopter parenting,” wherein parents believe their kids can do anything regardless of skill, means, or logic and tell them so all the time (“Our little Mikey can do ANYTHING, can’t you sweetheart?”), my parents and those before them were all about prepping their kids for constant disappointment and rejection. I resented this at the time and sometimes still do, but ultimately, I admit that I learned from a very early age that this is how the world works, and nobody owes me any favors, and you know what, kid? Tough shit.
So as a 12 year old you were kind of like Olive in “Little Miss Sunshine”?
Sort of, except my grandfather drove me to rehearsal once instead of teaching me about booty-poppin’ jamz.
My Mom told us we could “do whatever we put our minds to”….my Dad told us to “think about things realistically.” Two very different types of parenting…but I think it balanced out well. BTW I wanted to be a Rock star until I realized I had no musical talent. Then I wanted to be an archaeologist too! All because Indiana Jones kicks ass.
Re: motivation to be an archaeologist, same.
When I was a kid, my mother told me, “Abbi, you can be anything you want to be. Except a cheerleader. You may not be a cheerleader.”
Later, when I told her I wanted to grow up to be a novelist, she said, “That’s a nice hobby, dear, but you need a day job.”
In my mind, that’s support with realism.