Of New Dreams and Growing Up

I want to be Alan Rickman when I grow up.

I want to be statuesque, sexy and formidable.  I want to speak by barely moving my lips with a commanding tone and a glint in my eye that makes the minions shudder.  I want to be authoritarian, but loved by everyone; superior, but humble; wildly passionate, but dignified.

I still haven’t figured out how to morph from a squat medium-brown 30-something African woman with an identity crisis and a chip on her shoulder into Severus Snape, but I’m sure it will work out. 


Do you remember what you wanted to become when you were a child?  I remember all the boys in my class wanted to be lorry drivers and pilots and all the girls wanted to be air hostesses, nurses and teachers.  Nobody wanted to be a president, a priest or a king. 

In high school these dreams changed drastically.  Most of my peers thought the fulfillment of their raison d’etre lay in becoming engineers, doctors, pharmacists or lawyers.  No one wanted to be a teacher.  We were told teaching was for second-class citizens.  For those who didn’t pass the national exams as well as they had hoped and had to settle for second best.  Nurses were called failed doctors and lorry drivers were school dropouts.

Our ambitions were shaped by the experiences of our mentors, most who were Ugandans that attained maturity in the 1960s and 70s when doctors were treated as royalty and almost every budding politician and national leader had a background in law.  Explaining to these people that what I really wanted to be was a playwright was beyond their comprehension.  I was harangued by my teachers to pick a combination of subjects that would give me the upper edge in my university applications.  Literature, history, economics and divinity were my best bet if I was to become a lawyer or an important social scientist, they said.

No, I want to do music, literature and French. 

– Music, literature and French?  Why?  You can’t become anything more than one of those silly singers if you do that!

– I don’t want to become a singer.  I want to write.  I want to write plays.

Plays?  Look, you can do that in your spare time.  First earn the money as a proper professional and then you can think about your fun and games.  After all the money your parents have spent on your education you want to throw that away to jump around on the stage? 

I did what they said and became a proper professional … and I hated it.  

I am determined that my dreams will not die and the social dictates of what and who I should be will not define me.  I attempt to recreate myself every 2-3 years.  To dream better, to dream bigger and to ultimately live my life my way fulfilling that which I was meant to be. 

Who knows where my dreams will take me next?  Maybe I’ll be an archeologist’s apprentice, maybe a game park ranger.  Perhaps I’ll become a gym teacher or self-help guru or a beloved writer of children’s books.  Maybe I’ll head back to my first love, the theatre.

Or maybe I will become Alan Rickman when I grow up.


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24 Comments to “Of New Dreams and Growing Up”

  1. this makes me relive all those arguments with my parents and teachers about being ‘proper’ and ‘professional’. my father and those horrible teachers in the anglican hell hole were determined i would be a doctor and not the author i wanted to be. in high school, the headmistress gave me an ultimatum because i had changed my subject combination every other week. trying to find myself.
    i’m glad i have kitwe and have stuck it out. all my mistakes have been wonderful adventures.
    i’m still restless though and been wondering if this restlessness ever goes away or you live with it till you die.
    its like you walked into my mind and brought to light something that’s been chewing at me recently.

  2. ((wonders if she had dreams growing up)))

  3. This reminds me of one L.Vandross song. ‘If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with’. I have learnt that to be happy, one should try to love whatever situation one finds oneself in. Even if it is a second best choice.

  4. @Victoria, your advice is strangely double-edged.

    While I believe in making the most of the situation you find yourself in, there is no way you should settle for second best. If you can do more for yourself, do it now. There are no limitations to achieving your dreams – even though the world says otherwise. So smile at Miss Second Best and tell her so long! You were destined for better.

  5. You know, I’m real glad I have my mother. She stormed into teachers’ staffrooms and told them off for trying to make her children study what they didn’t want. To a point where she supported my siblings up and leaving to go pursue their dreams without an ‘A’-level certificate. But I think age caught up with her and when my little brother told her he wanted to be a football coach/manager, she told him to study business management in order to manage a football team better. He protested and threw tantrums till she had to give in and let him do a course in football coaching or whatever. God bless her soul! We have no doctors, engineers, lawyers or whatever in our family but we do have a future football coach, an accountant, a lounger (me), a musician, some writers and future journalists and a future teacher. Because no one’s telling my baby sister that teaching is second best!

  6. Ok Tumwi
    i do sort of feel you, but my comments don’t hold any water…

    We were always asked about what we wanted to be when we grew up…
    and even now we are still being asked…

    The clear contrast is that when you reach where you thought you wanted to be and it ain’t anywhere you thought it would be like…

    then you start to want to be other things allover again

    so, yeah, i am with you

  7. ok i cant keep up with ur posts so am jst goin to take my time before i comment

  8. @ all ma bloggers;And this goes to everyone, if you dont see ma footprints on your blog, dont worry, i glimpsed thru.Am just terribly busy this week.

  9. me i wanted to become a grazer [as in grazing cows and sheep and goats and hens] but my old man could hear none of it and sent me to school. now i dont even know what i want to be when i grow old. let me laugh at myself ha ha!!

  10. My dad made me give up typing when I was in S.3 so I could do literature. I hated it then but I guess it wasn’t so bad. I type really fast because it practically all I do all day long and I love to read. Although to be fair I have always loved reading.

    What is the point of this you may ask?

  11. Second best can become first rate. I am first rate at what was my second choice.

  12. ‘If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”–double edged indeed. At the same time, if we can we need to pursue our heart’s desire. Its possible to be best at your second choice, but why not reach for 1st choice, be happy and still at your best?

    Tumwi– our education systems, even in Kenya, stifle creativity. Fortunately for me, my parents are artists so they nurtured our creative side. So we had a balance of Kenya’s 8-4-4 and that. I remember writing plays and directing my siblings for a holiday show in which we’d entertain our extended family. And for Christmas and birthdays we painted and drew cards. Ahh, I miss that.

    (sorry for the mini-blogpost)

  13. You like Alan Rickman too? Oh my god! I love him! I was 8 and I fell in lust for him. He can take me anytime he wants!!! And if you ever figure out how to become Alan Rickman I’m totally going to come and shag you!

    I remember what I wanted to be when I grew up, well not so much what I wanted to be exactly. I wanted to OWN a brothel. I told my teacher that when I was in Year 3…I got moved to another class.

  14. Apparently, it’s a speech defect that makes him speak in that idiosyncratic manner.

    I first heard of him in H.P. (yes, yes, I know) and thought it was just his acting voice and was surprised to find he spoke in the same manner in other (superior) movies.

    A cool speech defect to have if there ever was one.

  15. at the end of the day ‘THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH’, and many years from now, all ye shall unfortuantely be telling your kids the same thing. The poiltics of life dictates that first you eat, then you think. If you can find a way round that, please do let us know. This is seconded by comments that ‘ i gotta pay the mortgage’, ‘a house does not make a home but neither does the street’, ‘love was invented to massage the poor’. Cynical, I know!

  16. Poor teachers! I know no nobler profession and shame on all those that belittle them. If there is people that should strike rather than campusers and will have all my support, it is teachers.
    Not sure if y’all have read this but since it has a subtle but strong linkage to your posting, Enjoy!


  17. All I ever dreamt of when I was young was being a princess and then being an actress, shy as I was.

  18. Peace, so why did you refuse my marriage proposal?

  19. I love Alan Rickman…now that I know thats his name..hehehe

    why do u want to be Severus Snape??interesting choice…

    Interesting post..let me go figure out what my dreams are

  20. attempting to live my dreams. just wish they were on solid ground though. getting a severe bout of vertigo.

  21. Alan Rickman is the man! loved him in Galaaxy Quest

    i wanted to be an accountant, actress, astronaut… ate i was bright, would have handled jusggling all of them.

  22. I’m dragging myself toward my degree, with no self-respect left. I hate myself for not having the guts to do what I really want.

  23. my 7 year old had a period of wanting to be a crocodile when he grew up.

  24. When I grow up (lol I’m not quite an adult yet), I want to be a librarian. you’d think that’s a nice, respectful job. but with absolutely everything turning into technology and electronics, who’s to say that by the time I get out of school, there won’t BE any more books? It takes a long time (college, THEN University) to be a full librarian, which needs a Masters degree. I’d settle for just being a library technician – except they make little more than minimum wage. So I’m stuck. lol

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