• Emily Ott

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Her delicate little fingers flip open the gold plated latch on the timeworn chest to reveal perpetual possibilities: a pink ballerina, a brave doctor, an intelligent teacher, a strong policewoman, or maybe even an astronaut. She reaches for the sparkly tutu, but by the end of the hour, all contents within the enchanted chest of possibilities are strewn about her pink sanctuary. Her mom calls her, but she doesn’t hear. She is too busy teaching her animal friends the letters of the alphabet. She stays occupied for hours imagining and reimagining her purpose within her great world; a world that thrives within four baby pink walls.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Thirty-two minutes and five seconds into fourth period, she slumps further down into her blue plastic seat with the hope to disappearing all together. Numbers rack her brain, persistently knocking on her skull for the right answer. Her classmates giggle. They point and stare. She longs to run away, but there is nowhere she can go…She wouldn’t know. Lost and inadequate, young and alone with no idea of what she wants to be. She doesn’t even know how to be free.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Well, what should she be? What will make her parents happy? What will impress her teachers? What will make her the most money?

Pressure, pressure, pressure! Please, Please, Please!

She wants to please, but inside she hears a silent scream. She must achieve…must do it all…perfection! Her brain is full; stomach empty. With tunnel vision and a barred heart, she seeks to be everything, but her.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Happy. She wants to be happy, to laugh louder and to wear red lipstick. She wants sing when she is sad and cry when she is mad. She desires to dive in and fill up with love and courage and strength. Still unsure about tomorrow, she knows action will change like the seasons and the oceans.

But she is not worried, for she is too eager.

She knows who she is and her world now extends beyond four baby pink walls.

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