When I Grow Up


A recent clean up uncovered some real treasures from my childhood. Scribbles of myself with freakishly disproportionate limbs, first attempts at handwriting that are barely legible, and dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up.

This last one really got to me, actually. I have always been a planner. I’m a big fan of the five year plan, versions of which I stumble upon from time to time, causing me to muse over how right or wrong my predictions were. The plan I unearthed the other day though was very specific. I wanted to be a part time librarian and part time writer. I can’t say how old I was when I wrote it, but the handwriting dates it at least ten years old. Fifteen year old Emma wanted nothing more than to handle books by day and write them by night.

In finding out what direction I wanted my life to take, I have thrown about teaching, being an author, being an educational psychologist. At the core of all of these is a passion for education and the written form, particularly these things in relation to inspiring and supporting young people.

I work in libraries now, and in a way I think it is everything I ever wanted to do rolled into one. Some days I am a therapist – I listen to stories of broken relationships and the broken people they leave behind, of painful memories from childhood, of the lonely widow whose only friend passed away just yesterday. I’m twenty-five and often feel naive in these moments, for I can only empathise, show that I may be young but I can listen well and just try to imagine how it must be to feel so alone.  Usually all these people want is to be heard, and sometimes take away a book or two to take their mind off things for a little while.

I am a teacher too. Children think I know everything because I wear glasses and have a badge and am surrounded by thousands of books filled with facts about the world. I do my best in these moments to keep the belief alive, to show that books are one of the greatest forms of knowledge, that they never cease to educate and amaze. I also like to play pupil too. “Tell me about sharks,” I say, “what did the book teach you?”

I’m still growing up. Sometimes I wonder what I might do next, whether there will be a time where I will write another five year plan, another illustration of a new career direction, a new calling. For now though, I’m happy.


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