When I was 10, I decided I would grow up to be a farmer.
Farming, you see, was the only profession that would allow me to tackle all of my interests in one fell swoop. Farms had animals, so I could work with them all the time, and since I loved animals, it was perfect from the start. But there were other reasons that stretched my imagination a little.
I loved baseball. I figured that farms required lots of open space, so I would have room to play organized games whenever I wanted. At this point, I hadn't even seen Field of Dreams yet. Our home in the city had a comparatively tiny backyard, but I couldn't even hit the ball across it yet - I must have had pretty big ambitions.
I loved art. To me, having been nowhere else yet, the Wisconsin countryside was the most beautiful place in the world. Duh, where else would I go to paint gorgeous things like trees and cows? I could set up my easel right outside the barn and create to my heart's content. (I must have planned on having quite a bit of free time - I knew little about how much goes into a working farm.)
I loved being outside, and everyone knows that you're always outside if you're a farmer. You can climb all the trees you want, you can play with the dogs in the creek, you can play in the orchard till dark. Or that was my general understanding of it. Maybe that was just what I thought grownups got to do. After all, that's what Grandpa got to do - I don't think I realized he had another job until he retired.
I loved space. The best stargazing, I knew, was definitley at Grandma and Grandpa's farm, far away from city lights and noisy cars. I remember, every time we were there late, being amazed at how many stars were actually in the sky. At the time, this was my biggest reason for wanting to be a farmer: so that I could just step outside with my telescope and stare off into space all night.
A couple of years after, I settled on wanting to be an astronomer. The beauty of stars and the facts of their size and distance caught my breath every time, and I desperately wanted to learn from them. One of my favorite poems is still Emerson's:
Teach me your mood, O patient stars!
Who climb each night the ancient sky,
Leaving on space no shade, no scars,
No trace of age, no fear to die.
I followed my spacey dream for several years until I had the relevation that... I was pretty bad at science. Not even just to my A+ mind - I regularly got C's in biology. If I had wanted it enough, I could have set my mind to it and gotten better, but I felt like something else would serve me better, so I didn't stick with it.
Another reason I wanted to be a farmer: since that would be my job, I wouldn't need to pay for anything, because I would grow my own food, and with that covered, what else is there to pay for? I would (of course) have plenty of time to do all of my extracurricular activities. Because farming doesn't take much time, does it? So that meant I could spend all the time I wanted with a pen and my latest book - writing.
It wasn't until just before college that I realized people could make a living doing that. I was ecstatic. Yes, I'm still trying to reach that point. But that's why I keep saying - even though I'm 26 - when I grow up, I want to be a writer.