when i grow up

When I was young, I specifically remember wanting to grow up to be a writer.

I have this vivid memory of creating a book stand with an old childhood friend. Seven or eight years old at the time, we thought we were geniuses, sure we had come up with the Next Great Idea. While our peers were busy squeezing out cups of lemonade to sell for 25¢ on the neighborhood corner, we were up to our elbows in Xerox paper and Crayola colored pencils, eagerly writing and illustrating our own books. After bounding them with her parents’ stapler, we set up shop on the sidewalk in front of her house, ready to make our millions.

Spoiler alert: our ingenious idea didn’t exactly take the publishing industry by storm. While we did sell a few books—one to an indulgent neighbor, a couple to her mom and probably one to her little sister after a bribe or two—I don’t remember being disappointed in not fulfilling our bestseller potential. Like many things as a child, our bookstand was a fad. It didn’t take long for us to forget about it and move on to bigger and better things. Like the bedazzler.

For me—as I’m sure like many of you—the answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was constantly evolving. After winning an art contest in grade school, I traded my writing career aspirations for those of becoming an artist. After watching the Magnificent Seven take home gold for Team USA in ’96, I was sure—as a 10-year-old not currently enrolled in gymnasticsI had what it took to become an olympic gymnast. Some time in high school, I decided biomedical engineering + medical school was the right choice for me. While covered in hardened cookie dough and earning minimum wage from my local mall’s bakery, the thought of some day becoming a rich doctor was extremely appealing. Then I got to college and realized I didn’t actually like science (thank you, Momma & Daddy, for your patience).

So, yeah. Growing up, I never replied to that age old question with the same answer. As my hobbies and interests changed, so did my professional career goals. Even today, nearly six years into said professional career (holy crap I’ve been working a big-girl job for almost 6 years excuse me while I figure out where all that time went), I don’t have a definitive answer.

Don’t get me wrong. I count myself lucky that I am currently employed and actually enjoy what I do. I still get excited when I design a new poster or advertisement, often giddily pulling up a picture on my phone to show my sister at home. Yet, being a full-time graphic designer means I only get to write on my downtime. And I really love writing. I sometimes can’t help but think…wouldn’t it be fulfilling to make my living by writing every day? What would that feel like? To be able to wake up and have writing as my only responsibility? To write for a living? To be able to answer that question with Oh, I’m a writer? Though, if my writing was to switch from hobby to career…would I still enjoy it as much? Wouldn’t I miss graphic design?

Aaaaaand…back and forth. And back and forth.

Then I have my paintings and other art to think about. With Cooper Young Festival in less than a week, all my free time over the past few months has been dedicated to the booth my sister and I will have this Saturday (Booth D-23). Instead of trying to fit in time for my writing, I’ve been painting and crafting. And guess what? I forgot how much I love to paint. And while my sister and I have only joked about the idea…the concept of us opening up our own shop to sell our work becomes more appealing by the day (as long as I don’t have to be in charge of my taxes because all those forms stress me out).

So, what do I want to be when I grow up? Ha. Good question. When is the deadline for my answer? It can’t have already passed, right? Because at 27, I don’t feel grown-up. I feel like I’m just beginning. How long before I actually have to pick one thing and commit? Because the thing that scares me most of all…what if I pick the wrong one?

Seriously. What if?

– lindsey archer

P.S. – Cooper Young Festival 2012 is THIS Saturday, September 15th. If you’re planning on attending, please stop by Booth D-23 (we’re in the Congo Church parking lot) to say hello and/or introduce yourself. If you live in the Memphis area and are NOT planning to attend, stop being boring.

i sure don’t feel grown-up

I’m 26 years old. I’m a college graduate. I have a full-time job. I live on my own (well, with my sister—so, close enough). I pay my own bills. My car insurance has gotten cheaper. I buy wine by the bottle instead of in a box. X + Y + Z… = I’m a grown-up. Right?

Well, I sure as Hell don’t feel like a grown-up. Like, at all.

I look at my older brother—married, with two children—and the word grown-up seems applicable. Then again, I’ve considered him a grown-up ever since he left the house for college. He’s older, i.e. he’ll always be more grown-up than me. Whereas, when I left for college? Um, no. Not even close (I just laughed out loud, as I’m sure my college friends will, too).

Of course, my brother does have six years on me. I had just finished 6th grade when he graduated from high school. To my 11-year-old self, 18 seemed so far away that of course I’d be all responsible and mature and grown-up by then. Because, duh! 18 sounded was so old. Also when I was 11, I spent my weekends rolling friends’ houses with toilet paper and dragging park benches into their yards for shits and giggles. Different perspective, I guess.

Right now, it seems most of my friends around me are married or well on their way to becoming so—though I think that has a lot to do with the fact I live in the South and people tend to get married fairly young down here. The calls I’m getting now from friends who are announcing their pregnancies are no longer met with an “Oops” or an “Oh, shit, what happened?” Why? Because these crazy people are actually getting pregnant on purpose. If that doesn’t say grown-up…

I’m not saying I have to be married or pop out a few kids to be considered a grown-up. If that’s the case—due to my recent stance on having children—I’m never going to get there. It’s just that right now, where I am in my life, I don’t feel grown-up. I’m still young. I’m still figuring things out. When I’m sick, I still need my mom to come over with popsicles and ginger ale and warm chicken noodle soup. Seriously. My sister got sick this week and it was rather late when she decided she wanted to go to the doctor, which was, of course, way past regular doctor office hours. So, where to? Emergency Room? Minor medical center? Um…we called our mom.

I don’t think there’s a magic formula for growing up. I don’t think there will be a defining moment that will make me stop and say, “I just became a grown-up.” Like I said, by most people’s standards, I’m still young. I know I still have a lot of growing up left to do, but at least I think I’m on my way.

Last month, my sister and I hosted dinner at our house for our parents, one of our aunts and one of our uncles. We cooked a proper meal. We opened finished a few bottles of wine. And as I sat there at our dining room table, I thought to myself, “This is totally what grown-ups do.”

Then, a few days later, I was stuck at the kids’ table again for Thanksgiving.

Yeah. Perspective.

– lindsey archer

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