When I was 5 years old I had my mind made up that I was going to be an ambulance driver. I knew there was no other job I would love as much because I would get to turn on the sirens and speed through traffic (saving people’s lives was just a bonus to me.) Anytime someone would ask me what I wanted to be, I would say with complete certainty and not an ounce of doubt, ‘I’m going to be an ambulance driver.’
A week later I wanted to be a world renowned author.
The older we get the higher the pressure becomes when people ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?” No longer can we fantasize about all the great possibilities out there, because in university we are forced to decide on a major, and from there people ask us “What job do you want when you graduate?” It’s as if we can only have one job in our line of vision, because if we have several then people might think we’re confused or sidetracked.
I’m currently in my third year of RTA Media Production, and the reason I chose that program is because when I was 11 years old I fell in love with TV shows. I was fascinated with how much I could relate to a character or a storyline, and how when a song fitted a scene it could change my entire mood. It made sense to me to base my career on something I was passionate about, and so from the age of 12 I decided I wanted to be a TV producer. This dream gave me a purpose. It was an escape for me during high school, and something I always had to look forward to. But recently I’ve been thinking whether I still want to be a TV producer because I’m passionate about production, or whether it’s because it’s what I’ve what I always thought I wanted.
Between the ages of 19 and 21 I changed so much, as most university students do. I look back on outfits I wore two years ago or the way I styled my hair and I wonder what I could have been thinking. I reflect on habits I had that drifted away, or interests that I no longer have. We are constantly changing, evolving and adapting to new environments and situations which broaden our perspective. Since studying TV production I’ve realized that I’m still deeply passionate about the industry, but like most other students I am developing other interests. The fact that I enjoy working in multiple aspects of my program used to scare me because so many other people have a particular focus and know exactly what job they want when they graduate. But why should we have to?
It would be wrong for me to shut out other passions just because I’ve always thought I should be a TV producer. There are multiple talents that we possess, and several areas of study we can be interested in, and we would be doing a disservice to ourselves if we didn’t explore our potential. I decided last year to take a minor in English and to pursue my love for storytelling, and it has allowed me to imagine several possibilities for myself beyond graduation rather than just one. A lot of students feel the pressure to find just one focus but I think university should be the time when we explore our passions and gather more interests. Working as a Stage Manager for the Ryerson Musical Theatre Company is something I did to fill in volunteer hours but it became a passion for me. Taking a dramatic writing class made me realize that my passion for screenwriting is stronger than my interest for on screen production. I would recommend for any student to not only involve themselves in the school community but to take a variety of electives. Talk to your program adviser, explore your options and above all challenge yourself.
I’ve decided to not give just one answer to the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I want to be lots of things. Maybe I’ll be a writer, because storytelling is something I’ve always loved. Or maybe I’ll work some more in theater production again. Or maybe I haven’t discovered who or what I’m supposed to be yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. Mostly I just want to be happy, and I think that as long as I’m following my gut instincts and constantly pursuing something I love I will get there, even if it’s somewhere I didn’t expect.