Most kids go through long lists of what they want to be when they grow up. Sometimes their dreams are based on their parents and what they do, sometimes on wanting to change the world--but me, well, I wanted to be a Lion.
Yes, I freely admit it, I was not too tightly wrapped! You see I loved the way lions were always heard--their roar is unmistakable. And I loved the idea of being king (well queen, but my ideas about gender specific royalty hadn't gelled yet so I wanted to be king) of the jungle. And that great mane--almost the equivalent of having Farrah Fawcett hair but without dealing with the haircut and blow dry (I have to admit, today I still wish for great hair.)
My brothers and sisters told me 'You can't be a lion' which of course only made me want to be a lion more. I was sure I would have the very BEST JOB! No boring fireman or doctor dreams for me! I wanted to be powerful, brave and someone people listened to. I was surprised when my siblings laughed (in fact they didn't just laugh, they roared with laughter) But I remained firm--LION--that was my career path.
My sister told my mom to tell me I couldn't be a lion when I grew up--my sister was VERY REALITY based. Fortunately my mother told me I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. I felt I had triumphed! MOM WAS NEVER WRONG! (at least when I was five, when I got to be a teenager it was another story).
But as I got older I decided maybe being a lion wasn't the best thing to be, maybe a wizard (remember this was pre-Harry Potter days, NO ONE wanted to be a wizard) or a dragon...or a unicorn. I always had magical powers no matter what my career choice as a child. As I reached middle school it was no longer cool to not be part of the crowd, so I spent some of those years with my nose buried in books. I wasn't one of those kids who listened to all the same music my friends did (you're talking about a woman who didn't discover The Beatles until her thirties!), or who watched all the 'in' television shows. I still insisted on being what my guidance counselor called 'different.'
As I was looking for colleges to go to one of my siblings jokingly said "I guess by now you've decided not to be a lion"--still with laughter in their voice. And while I realized I was never going to find a college with a major in being a lion, (I wasn't that divorced from reality) I decided I WAS going to be a lion in life. I was going to take the best qualities lions have and apply them to my life. I WAS going to be brave and take pride in myself. No one was going to need to tell me how good I was, I just WAS going to be the tops--I was going to be the best. And I wasn't going to live my life based on what other people thought, I was going to live my life the way I wanted to.
I'm not five anymore, but I still dream, everyday, that I can be a lion in life. Friends got older and went off to more prosaic jobs--teachers, salesmen, mechanics, secretaries. And since I'm not five anymore I didn't grow up to be a wizard or unicorn or lion, but I still dream that I can BECOME a lion. I can be brave, treasure my dreams and try to live them. I can have strength and take pride in myself and who I am. And I try (in this peer pressure world) not to care what others think as long as I take pride in my work.
So in a way, I have become a lion. Just without the great hair! And everyday I thank my mom for telling me "You can be whatever you want to be," a very valuable life lesson for anyone--Thank you mom.