Friday, August 6, 2010

When I Grow Up...

My mother never throws anything away, so my parents’ garage is overflowing with my childhood mementos.  Last Christmas, I looked through everything and was able to track my career aspirations since the age of five.

According to my Dr. Seuss’ My Book About Me, I wanted to be an artist.  But even in grade school, I was unable to limit myself to one career choice.   In the background, I’ve also checked singer, dancer, movie star, and mother.

A few years later, I won first place in the “If I Had a Wish” essay contest.  After being presented with my shiny blue ribbon, it was clear to me that I should be a writer.  Apparently, I was awesome at it!  Here is the first paragraph of my award-winning essay (check out the cool graphics):

I was feeling all sentimental and proud until I got to that last sentence.  “Defend my castle from Indians?”  What were they teaching me at that school?!  I guess the judges weren’t deducting points for political incorrectness.

After winning that contest, I got very cocky about my writing ability.  For all future holidays, I could think of no better gift for my parents than my own illustrated stories, dedicated to them.  Check out this dedication:

I seemed pretty convinced that I would be a published author by middle school.  I’m now hoping to be a published author by age thirty-two, and even that will be a stretch.

I did deviate from wanting to be a writer at some point.  In the autobiography I wrote at age eleven, I apparently wanted to become a lawyer.  Here is an excerpt from “Jami Tells Her Story: The Autobiography of Jami,” in which I've predicted my life in 2011:

“In the year 2011, I expect my life will be very different. This is what I think my life will be like. I’ll call my two children, Elizabeth and Katie, down for breakfast before they go off to Hillview Elementary. I’d leave my sunny Maryland kitchen and speed off to work in my solar-powered convertible. Reaching the 50-story Hillview Law Office in record time, my personal robot secretary, Shannon, would lead me to my office and adjust my recliner. After a tough day of law, I’d reach my white, three-story house, just as the yellow bus pulled to a halt. When my husband, also a lawyer, came home, he’d stroll into the kitchen, his brown eyes sparkling. We’d eat dinner at Rappin’ Randy’s. After tucking in my daughters, I’d watch a horrifying movie and edge closer to my husband on the couch. Not everyone would have a family quite like mine. I guess I’m a really lucky person in the past, the present, and the future.”

I was such a cheeseball!  It’s amazing I had any friends back then.  I hate to break it to myself, but lawyers don’t usually arrive home by 4pm to meet the school bus.

Anyway, the lawyer thing was just a phase.  I quickly went back to thinking I would be the next Hemmingway.  When I was thirteen, I wrote a description of my dream house that included “a fireplace in every room and a library filled with books I’ve written.”

If I were to rewrite that “If I Had a Wish” essay now, I would wish for half the confidence I had as a kid.


  1. Wow. This is too funny Jami! I love that your mom kept this stuff. Be that little kid!

  2. This is why I love working with children. A third grader's confidence and sense of self can be like a smack in the face saying, "Wake up! You have choices! Be who you want to be!"

  3. I hear you on reclaiming your kid-self's confidence. Also, what's up with the recliner at your law office job? I want one too! Great post and visuals!

  4. Love your self confidence back then! If only we never lost any of that! When I was little, I wanted to be a singer (Tiffany to be exact) and I would record myself singing. Found one of those tapes recently and I was horrified. lol

  5. Jackie, I would really love a copy of that tape. Maybe for Christmas?

  6. Hahhaa. personal robot secretary named Shannon. I am still laughing outloud like two hours later.