What Do I Want to be When I Grow Up
I was pacing, jumpy, unable to settle down. I wanted to do something and didn’t know what. I’d like to write but my head’s empty. The guy’s coming to fix my bathroom but that’s not for another 45 minutes. What to do in the meantime? This was how my days went. Little or no direction unless I made one up.
Today feels different and I’m not sure why. I force myself to sit down at the computer hoping words will come. “Just write,” I tell myself, “it doesn’t matter what.” Two words go through my head, nothing and enough. It isn’t like I did nothing with my life, it just feels that way, like it’s never enough. I had a modest career as an opera singer and got to sing in major opera houses and with almost all of the prestigious names in the business. I was fortunate to sing major roles with all most of the smaller opera companies in every part of New York State. I loved singing; I didn’t always love doing smaller roles. No, it wasn’t ego. It was the need to express emotions inside I couldn’t get out of me any other way.
I established an office as an agent for opera singers and relevant personnel, a business I gave up because it wasn’t satisfying. I gave it to a woman who was interested and moved on to my next career – singing and acting as a ship’s hostess on cruise ships. That lasted for a few years. I loved the glamor, the gowns every night, the caviar and turtle soup, free use of the beauty shop, and free drinks. Who could ask for more? Me. Life there was so much like a fantasy that I finally walked away, realizing that I missed my family and needed to have my feet on the ground.
After settling in at home I go through a major existential crisis followed by an awakening that sends me back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree and go on to get my Masters while studying a different kind of psychology called Psychosynthesis. I work in the field of addictions and think I found my place. I do my Ph.D. in psychology and holistic healing when I come across another kind of therapy that integrates voice, movement, and breathwork. Voice Movement Therapy combined interests I had throughout my life. The two-year course is stimulating and provocative until the last module. The founder and trainer shows the class his true colors. He methodically attacks and demolishes everyone in the room. Since this horrendous experience, I am not able to use the material I learned.
The big question that constantly rears its head is, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” I say out loud, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” That’s the one I can’t answer. I’ve asked that question for years. My family laughs it off and moves on to the next topic. It’s not that I have nothing to look forward to. I fill up my time with things I love to do – singing in musicals, acting in plays, doing commercials, and see my psychology clients three days a week.
I cut back after having a full-time practice when my father dies. I need to grieve my own way. I start writing and although it helps, it’s not enough. All of it together is not enough. Is this how I’m supposed to finish out my days? Tears well up, so I knew there is something else. A major change? A grand move? I consider going to Afghanistan or Costa Rica to volunteer and work to help empower the women of those countries. My deep desire is to help women who have no voice. Perhaps I identify with them and want to show them the possibilities of a different existence. My dissertation was about helping women find their voices through movement and sound work. I didn’t think this was the kind of work the women of third world countries need. I didn’t presume to know what they needed but whatever it was, I wanted to learn and help.
Am I being a drama queen? Am I immersed in my own grandiosity to think I could do this? Can I survive in the conditions in which they live? What will I learn and how will it change me? Will I go and be disappointed? Will I be able to help at all? A million questions go through my head with no answers. And the fear of making such a change, such a commitment holds me back from deciding.
When will there be enough? Enough applause, enough awards, enough recognition to satisfy that attention-starved little girl who still lives inside me and needs to know she exists. Not just exists physically, but as a person with feelings, thoughts, ideas, hopes, and dreams that are valid.