If you had asked me eight, nine, ten years ago what I wanted to be “when I grow up,” I would have put on a goofy smile and spit out marine biologist, fashion designer, scientist. Normal, ordinary things that every kid dreams about. If you had asked me three, four, five years ago, I would have laughed and said, something with books or writing. Less definitive, more dreamy and more me. If you had asked me one, two years ago, I would have said, well I’m not really sure. I’m still learning and experiencing and trying to find myself.
If you asked me right now, if I had to give an answer, if my life depended on this answer (which, it kinda does), I would hesitate, and say, I want to be a librarian. You’d give me a weird look, narrow your eyes at me, raise a judgemental eyebrow, and repeat, a librarian? Like I haven’t thought about this decision for the past ten years, ever since adults started asking me how I want my life to turn out twenty, thirty years down the road. Like I don’t know myself, like I’m somehow pulling your leg with this answer. Yes a librarian, I would say with a hard glint in my eye, daring you to challenge my answer, daring you to ask me why on earth I want to be a librarian, one of the least glamorous jobs in the world.
If you asked me, seriously and without any judgement in your voice, why I want to be a librarian, I would give you a serious answer. I would say, I love to read. I’ve loved to read since I was a little girl, going to the school library and reading three, four, five grade levels above my own, devouring books in one sitting. You’d never see me without a book in my hand, or a story in my brain.
I’d say, I love to read, and I want other people to love reading too. Too often, people are astonished by how many books I read, how much I love reading instead of going outside, how I’d rather read than have a mindless conversation. I want reading to be commonplace, for it to be as respected as I believe it ought to be.
I’d say, I love to read, and I want to inspire people to read more. I want to be a cool librarian with a million book recommendations, each one different and personalized for everyone who comes into my library wanting something in which to immerse themselves, something to run to instead of run away from. I want the library to be a safe haven for those who don’t have one, and I want books to be the reason they strive for greater things. I want books to inspire people to reach for greatness. I want the library to be the ladder that people climb to get to their goals and achieve their dreams.
I’d say, I love to read and I want to teach people about the world. I’ve learned about different cultures, people’s struggles and aspirations, how people live their lives, and what they want to change about the world. I want people to learn about other societies and see they aren’t that much different than their own. I want people to read about other’s problems and apply the character’s solutions to their own issues. I want people to understand that they aren’t alone in the world, that others have gone through this and have become stronger because of it.
I’d say, I love to read. Do I need another reason to be surrounded by books?
Unfortunately, this isn’t enough for some people. They say, will you want to be a librarian thirty years from now? They say, those reasons are tired. Shouldn’t you come up with something original and new? They say, do you really know anything about being a librarian? Do you really know what you want to be?
Well, honestly, I don’t really know anything about being anything. I’ve never experienced having a job as a real librarian and I’ve never had to make my own decisions without anyone there to catch me if I fall. I’m only in high school and I’ve been expected to get ready for the next seventy-plus years of my life ever since I started school as a small child in kindergarten. So, in answer to your pointed questions about whether or not I really know myself enough to make a decision about the rest of my life as a seventeen year old girl who’s still developing and learning about the world; no. I don’t know who I am, or what I want in forty years. All I know is that I love to read. That’s good enough for me at the moment.