That question has been asked, answered and pondered by anyone who has ever had a dream — a dream of one day becoming a teacher, a veterinarian, a president and, yes, even a newspaper reporter.
I was in the third grade when I knew what I wanted to be. While my friends were dreaming of one day becoming rock stars and actors, my hopes consisted of seeing my stories in print.
I was only 8 years old, but I knew that writing was my passion. Even though I didn’t know what it would take to achieve my goal, I did understand that the written word was magical.
In the beginning, my goal was to become a novelist. I wanted to be someone who could write a story filled with characters and events that would come to life in the reader’s imagination. I wanted people to pick up my books and read what I had to say.
The thought of being able to make a living by telling stories was amazing to me. I had a collection of spiral notebooks filled with tales I had created in my head. I never let anyone read my stories for fear they would think my dreams of becoming a writer were silly.
As I grew up, my goal of one day becoming a writer hadn’t tarnished. I read as many books as I could and constantly tried to learn the art of writing.
It wasn’t until I was in high school that I really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a news reporter. For me, it was the perfect career choice.
Being able to find out what was going on and then being able to inform other people was what I believed I was meant to do. My curiosity about every detail of every event was unprecedented in my family.
I would always ask questions about my parents’ lives and what it was like for them growing up. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to know their teachers’ names, I wanted to know what kinds of games they played and I wanted to know how they met.
If you ask my family about my curiosity, they would probably say I was sometimes a bit too curious.
Needless to say, after several bumps in the road, my dreams finally did come true. I am a newspaper reporter and, yes, I am a writer. Call it determination or call it whatever you want, but when I finally achieved my career goal almost four years ago, I felt my dreams had indeed come true.
Every parent tells his or her children that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. My parents always encouraged me to fulfill my dreams, and, to this day, I am extremely grateful to them.
Now that I have a daughter, I give her the same advice. And, yes, I catch myself asking her that same question that all of us have heard. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I was lucky. I knew at an early age what I wanted to be when I grew up.
(Editor’s note: Clara Garcia covers police, courts and the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus for the News-Bulletin. She is a graduate of Belen High School as well as the University of New Mexico. She is also a prize-winning photographer.)