What did you want to be when you were young?
I often dreamed of being an architect. It started with my love of Legos and other blocks. My brother and I spent hours building all sorts of crazy buildings out of Legos — rarely using the instructions, instead using our imaginations. They were, by far, my favorite toys (and still are!). I had Barbies, but I rarely played with the dolls — I spent most of my time rearranging her furniture and decorating her house (which was blanket with helpful Barbie-room-size squares…no Dream House for me!).
Both my parents loved architecture, so house plan books graced our coffee table. I’d spend hours poring over them with my mom, deciding why some house plans were better (a nice working triangle between the sink, fridge, and stove) or worse (trekking groceries halfway across the house because the garage and the kitchen weren’t close to each other). My favorites were Craftsman-style and uber-modern homes. And anything with a gigantic porch.
Then I went through a phase where I loved drawing my own house plans on graph paper. Most of my houses were normal, but sometimes I’d throw a McDonald’s or bowling alley in there (oh, the dreams of a pre-teen in her house!). My dad studied a bit of architecture, and he had great templates so I could easily add architectural features to my drawings. I’d bring my graph paper with me camping, sitting at the picnic table, sketching out dream houses.
It continues. Chicago’s architecture boat tour is one of my favorite tours in the country. Whenever I’m in a new city, I do my best to get into a tall building or landmark to see the city from above. And to this day, one of my favorite things is to spend an afternoon with my mom, touring model homes.
So what happened?
Why didn’t I become an architect?
Early in high school, my parents worked with an architect friend to design and build a new house. I loved watching the process of design all the way through construction — it was like watching a house plan come to life.
Gosh, it was such a beautiful home. That porch!
One afternoon, the architect came over for a planning meeting with my parents, and I mentioned to him that I wanted to be an architect as well. He stopped me short. He said being an architect was a miserable job and that I had to be good at math (I wasn’t).
So guess who didn’t become an architect?
I went on to study English, publishing, and editing — all of which I truly love and use in my daily work. But I often wonder, what if? What if I hadn’t listened to the dream-crushing architect? Where might I be today?
Honestly, I wouldn’t change what I do now for the world.
And the cool thing is, I’m realizing that the life I am an architect, in my own little way.
I still sketch.
I still design.
I still create.
I still build.
I still have an unreasonable attachment to graph paper.
Today I wanted to encourage you to think about what you loved as a little girl or boy — and then figure out how to do it now, in your own way.
Did you love the sandbox? Start a garden or take a pottery class.
Did you play sports? Join a neighborhood league.
Did you have adventures exploring the woods? Try backpacking.
Did you love to draw? Grab a sketchbook.
I truly believe that the things we love as a child are things God plants within us for a lifetime. They don’t have to be our careers or consume our lives. But they are things that we love forever. And things we should pursue, in some way or another, our entire lives.
What were your little kid dreams?
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