As a little girl, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, there was a while when I said “Van Gogh.” I guess he was the one artist whose name I knew right off, and I wanted that – to be an artist. To create things people loved to look at and were inspired by.
I jumped from thing to thing: one day writing a novel, the next drawing what I was sure would be a masterpiece. Singing, painting, crafting, photographing, sewing. I tried it all, and my parents supported me every step of the way – enrolling me in art classes, driving me into the city every Saturday for a writing class at the University of the Arts, buying me an expensive camera, a keyboard to practice piano on, and a sewing machine, taking me to ballet classes and coming to my handbell performances. Whatever art I thought I’d excel at, whatever forum I thought I’d try my hand at, they supported, even though they had to know that my paintings were the worst in the class and my voice was never meant for singing. They supported it all even though I think they both knew it would be writing all along.
Most of the time, I realize that it’s writing. Just writing, and some of the time not even that. But I still fill my room with yarn to crochet scarves and blankets out of, with everything A. C. Moore has to sell so I can try my hand at painting, at quilting, at making dream catchers. I spend hours wandering up and down the aisles of the local craft store, and scour Pinterest for all the pretty things I think I could probably make.
And sometimes, I manage – I crochet a scarf that my friends love, take a photo I’d love to frame – but never the way that five-year-old me imagined. Never on the level of the artist I tried to emulate so many years ago, or the levels of friends whose work I can’t imagine being able to make.
And it makes me wonder about what we’re capable of. About, more accurately, what I’m capable of. If our expectations for ourselves really matter in the end, or if the things we say we want to be when we grow up have any really bearing on who we become. And I guess I don’t have a point, other than to say I thought I’d know who I am by now.