Let’s get right to it, and I’m addressing everyone who has every wanted to be someone, something, anything in life and not just the writers. Growing up you could have wanted to be a doctor, and I’m sure most of us had imagined this one because of the importance society places on it (as I did once – tsk tsk). Or you could have wanted to be an architect, and falsely so because you saw your neighbour build tiny houses out of cardboard and thought it would be fun to ‘do’ (like me!). Or you could have wanted to be an actress (or actor) because the ladies (or gents) in the TV and movies looked so glamorous and you thought it would be fun too (like I used to when I was yay big). Of course, at that time I didn’t even know what the word ‘glamorous’ even meant!
Just take a moment and jot down the number of professions you changed in the course of growing up, how many options did you give yourself? One? Two? Three?, or maybe more, a lot more? And how did you finally arrive at what you are currently doing, or trying to do. Now go back to your childhood (not literally of course, otherwise every one might think the story of Benjamin Buttons was actually true!). Have you ended up with any of those professions you professed you loved/admired and wanted to be?
I’m willing to bet that most of us will say no to that question, and very few will find that they did end up in one of the professions they preferred as a child. Why is that so, by the way? That growing up we fancy so many professions, only to end up in a completely different thread? Like me for example. I used to say I wanted to be a doctor, and I believe that was because everybody else was saying the same thing and as kids we tend to copy one another. That’s how we learn, right?
Well, imagine that? If it had come true, then all of us would be doctors, and we would barely have one patient per doctor because simply there are too many of us. And where does that leave the rest of the world? Yikes!
After that, I wanted to be an architect, then an actress, then for a brief while, an air hostess. I have absolutely no idea why I chose these professions. Maybe they looked fun through a child’s eyes. But, several years on, I have found myself traveling down a road I had not even fathomed existed as a kid.
I wanted to be a writer! Pretty much since I was about 14. And though I had no idea how I would do such a thing, I have nevertheless travelled down a road that has occasionally nudged me deeper into writing, be it short stories, poems, novels or scriptwriting. I have done them all!
How did I reach this decision? Utterly by accident, a happy accident, but an accident nonetheless. A day without homework nor reading material, and a teacher telling me not to sit idle. That’s what it took to make sure I travelled down this road. It might come across odd to many people in these modern times, but I’m a believer of fate. I used to say I’m going to be a writer with absolute resolve that the whole universe has conspired in a way to make it so that I hold true to my word. I cannot say I can prove it entirely, but this has happened twice to me: in later years of high school, whenever asked, I’d tell people I’m going to be a movie director one day.
Guess what? I have been there and done that too now! It’s like opportunities presented itself to me and offered me options so I could keep my word.
Childhood dreams and hopes are child’s play – fickle, fun, and ever-changing.
I did not grow up dreaming to be a writer, nor a movie director – but today, I am both! (Or at least trying to be). If you find yourself being lead down a certain path and you are curious or excited by it, I’d say give it a go. You never know where your heart truly lies till you have given something a red-hot go. It makes deciding on a life long career that much easier and pain-free most days. Even if the destination is fraught with bumps, I can guarantee that you will love every moment, the good, bad and the ugly.
(A photo still from the movie I co-directed/wrote, Sweet Marshall. Image courtesy of PFA)