Career aspirations

When I was in grade five, my teacher asked us to present a report on a job we one day wanted to have. We would have to research the job and present the education and experience required to become such a thing. I ran home and proudly presented my homework assignment to my parents and made clear my career aspiration: I wanted to be a director.

I don’t think it was much of a surprise to them. After all, I’d been saying how sweet a gig (not those exact words) it would be — to boss people around and make movies — and now I could publicly state my intention.

Bless them, my parents had no idea what was involved in becoming a director and they said as such. I felt deflated. This was before internet times, so we couldn’t just google the answer. You had to know someone in “the biz.”

My dad offered an alternative. “You like to draw. Just say you want to be a graphic artist.” I said that’s not what I wanted to be and became upset by the thought of giving up my dream — in homework form, at least. My parents explained to me that they didn’t know how one goes about becoming a director, but my dad worked with a young woman who was in school to become a graphic artist (or already was a graphic artist), and he said he could get the information from her to help flesh out my homework.

So I acquiesced and lied to my class about what I wanted to be. I enjoyed drawing, used to do it all the time, but I never really thought about it being my job, not if the drawing involved clicking away with a little mouse into a glowing box as was described to me by my dad.

I remember the teacher asking me questions about my “job” choice and I answered what I could, no passion behind it, like most of the others in my grade. Very few had the conviction to talk about their dream job or their passion for what they would do for a living. We were 10, 11 years old — we couldn’t comprehend that far into the future. Little did we all know that we would have to make another, more serious attempt when we neared grade 12.

Lucky for me, I found my real calling the next year when I (for fun) sat in my room all day and night writing stories featuring imaginary friends (based on book/TV/movie characters) going on adventures that I imagined they should go on. Since then, I’ve been crazy about writing and telling stories, and I think in a way, it’s just like directing. I don’t have a large crew or cast, but I tell these “people” what to do, I work with who I want, and I tell the story I feel needs to be told. It’s awesome.

I get what my parents wanted me to do. They wanted me to pass that assignment and perhaps take a dose of reality about working, and no doubt as a working writer you get a big honkin’ dose of reality every day. But let’s just say that, like in fifth grade, being a graphic artist is maybe plan B. Or C. Probably D. I’ll stick to directing, er writing, thank you.

Oh, and the only reason I wanted to be a director? To meet movie stars, of course.