Why Don’t You Grow Up?

July 2009

Since I was a young kid, I struggled with an incessant need to please the people around me. It felt like I was the captain on the Titanic, ready to go down with the ship after I have saved everyone else. The need to put others before myself quickly began to dilute my own passions. I stopped caring as much for what I wanted to do and began to transition into what I thought other people wanted me to be.

“What do you want to do when you grow up,” everyone seemed to ask me. From family members to the dentist, I got these questions continuously. As a kid, I would answer with whatever I thought my family needed. For instance, when my Grandma was diagnosed with cancer, I decided to be an oncologist so that I could cure the disease. Nevermind that I had a dislike for science. Beginning debate in high school, it seemed like the only “smart” career path I could possibly desire was being a lawyer. I built this dream up so much in my brain that I started to believe that I wanted to be the female Atticus Finch for my generation. However, it all felt wrong. When discussing law, I felt disinterested or frustrated by the actual justice system. How could I be a part of the system that I despised? It wasn’t until I met a former journalist that I realized my calling.

In a small, tourist town called Virginia City, I met a woman in my motel lobby. Discussing the attractions around us, we found a connection over her past occupation. As a believer in fate, when she discussed her past in journalism with me, I felt uplifted. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was understood. My passion had always been to tell stories. My dream had always been to spread the truth of the people around me. Meeting this woman felt like a sign to grow up and be who I was meant to be.

For the first time since I was nine, I decided to explore a career path for myself- not for anyone else. It felt like a sort of liberation. Since last summer, I feel less nervous about expressing my dreams. After all, my aspirations are my truth. At eighteen, I am learning the importance of going after what is good for you instead of what “should” be good for you. Learning who you are and accepting what you are meant to do is the first step for the rest of your life.

November 2019

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Journalism student at the University of Kansas | Ghosted in America Podcast Host

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Abby Peeler

Journalism student at the University of Kansas | Ghosted in America Podcast Host