Growing up in an academic town, I felt pressure to become
something 'official.' When I was a kid, I did not know precisely what profession that would be, but in doing the Dressing Up Our Dreams project and talking with the participants I learned that our vision of adulthood as children can even be a more nebulous feeling like 'official' and not a specific profession.
My mom once found a letter written by my grandfather where he wrote about my father--who was five years old at the time-- and said, "Little Jimmy will be either a doctor or a lawyer." My Dad, a Depression-era baby, would talk about the pressure he had put on him at an early age by his father. My Dad did become a doctor, and he genuinely loved his choice, but he also longed to be an actor and often dressed up in costumes while teaching a concept in his medical school courses.
My parents showed my sister and me much love and wanted whatever would make us happy, but it did feel like, professionally, we were expected to work at a university and get a doctorate. We both did that. It was in my 40s that I began learning to make films and bring my artistic work out from behind the scenes.
While doing the Dressing Up Our Dreams project, we had fantastic conversations about our childhoods and whom we longed to be. I recall having fuzzy professional dreams of being a psychologist, a writer for National Geographic, someone who worked in a museum, or someone who was in fashion.
As a tall child and soon to be an almost six-foot-tall 13-year-old, I longed to feel comfortable and confident in my body someday. I was not fond of formal dress, such as Sunday shoes and dress pants, and they were always too short/small/ugly/ill-fitting. My mom and I would spend hours looking for something somewhat presentable to wear.
I grew up still hating that feeling of dress or 'official' clothing. I disliked that about adulthood, that I needed to wear professional outfits to educational conferences (my profession before learning to create films). Directing film, I wear jeans and finally feel confident, comfortable, and taken seriously in my work as an adult.