Becoming Versus Growing Up

‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit



              Do you remember your answer when asked in kindergarten what you wanted to be when you grew up? Its an odd thing really, asking a five-year-old to tell you what they will become in twenty, thirty, or fifty years.  You know what I said? A cat.  I was so far from grasping the question that I literally said that I, a human, aspired to become a kitten. Now because you’re five and haven’t even made it halfway through the alphabet, you must draw a picture of said aspirations. My picture was a five-legged cat, and it was blue.

              Fast forward 13 years and they ask you again, what do you want to be when you grow up?  And although this time is about one million times more serious than the last, the question as a graduating senior feels just as intense as to a kindergartener.  Somehow stages of life are punctuated by a series of questions about what we will be when we “grow up”.  And why is it that we have to decide that we will only do one thing.  It puts so much pressure on deciding what you will do and, even more, it puts a stress on you if, God forbid, you change your mind.

              Perhaps, they ask us all these questions throughout our lives to ease us into the understanding that you will change your mind. And that’s okay.  Your perspective on life changes as does the one surrounding your grown-up life.  I don’t know why I keep trying to avoid it, I mean I write an entire blog on the importance of perspective changes. Yet I battle so much stress revolving around my ever-changing ideas, you would think by now I would have come to terms with it.

              Growing up can be dreadfully overwhelming.  I am a crazy planner.  Although I have relaxed in the past few years (thanks traveling), I still live in this funny world where I feel as if I need to have a plan for the next month, six months, year, sometimes life.  Its ridiculous, but true.  I get a notion in my head, and plan out my major steps for the future.  But the worst part is that I tell people about it.

              Obviously, I tell my mum, because before it is all planned out I have run it by her to make sure that it is actually a good idea. Then it usually goes to my siblings and best friend, from them it fizzles out through everyone else.  They say telling people about your goals is good because it holds you to it.  The same reason making it massively overwhelming.  You see, if you are like me, you dream up this incredible goal.  Its never anything normal like, get a job, pay bills, have a family, etc.  Its always something more like ride an elephant in a parade over the Great Wall of China, welcoming the Queen of England to your birthday party. (I do nothing halfway, including dreaming)

              It makes for inner turmoil when your dreams change.  I mentioned in the last post (Immigrants We Get the Job Done) that I am currently looking for an internship back in the US.  Therein lies the stress.  When I moved here, I told everyone I didn’t want to move back for the near future.  I was going to move abroad, write, travel, and be poor but love it.

              Until a month ago, I was set with a fantastic plan. I had gotten an internship offer from a company in London that brings artisanal, small production, Italian food to the world. Not quite sure how I would afford to live in London, I was excited for the next adventure.  After a couple of months of sorting out finances and trying to navigate British immigration, the visa requirements became more than the company wanted and the offer fell through.  A bummer at first, but honestly probably a blessing in disguise.

              As I started back working with the Career Office on campus, looking for other opportunities, my gaze moved back home.  A mix of the variety of incredible new sustainable food companies popping up all over the country and no work visa issues made the States look better and better.  Not to mention, after moving away from my family a year ago, all three of my sisters got pregnant due in the spring.  I am extremely excited to be looking to come back to the west coast, but I can’t help feeling weird pangs of defeat.  I made this huge deal about living a grand adventure abroad and making it all work.  Now I was turning around to go home.

              As I melted down on Facetime one night with my mum, I realized I had forgotten the most important thing, perspectives change. A year ago, there was no way I was going to move back to America any time soon. That was before I had lived a year away from my siblings, and before the food world had opened up to me.  That perspective wasn’t thinking about the fact that my nieces and nephews were growing up with Auntie Mols living in a screen.  It didn’t take into account the idea that very few people can live on the road while saving money to one day raise a family, even fewer can raise a family on the road, let alone find someone that wants to do that with them.

              Those are the days you call your mum and let her reaffirm that its ok to want to come home.  Its not defeat, it’s a reprieve.  Let her tell you that your goals can and will change, that family has always been the gold in my pocket, my passport stamps were merely silver.  And as she said probably 10 times, its only four months before I am off on the next adventure and there’s a lot of producers to meet around the world being based stateside.

I used to think America had no gastronomy. In my eyes, it was a broken food system that appeared to be past the point of fixing.  I know, me, the blogger who sees the world through culture colored glasses.  I see culture in everything, the sound of a baby babbling on the street, how children play, how people eat, even what their slang sounds like.  Yet, I couldn’t see it in my very own backyard.  Pollenzo shifted that gaze to show how good people can bring change to a broken system and the importance of protecting the gastronomic cultures in the US.

Now I am not saying I am moving home forever and always because well, that would be stifling to my spirit.  There is a lot of good work I can do based from home, or being an expat.  Who knows where the adventure following graduation will take me.  But for now, it’s taking me back home.  Living and learning here in Pollenzo has, yet again, changed my perspective.  Perspective on my country, my future, and the impact I can make in both.  I keep saying I wish everyone could come to this school, but perhaps I am supposed to bring my school home.

              Time changes that idea of what you will be when you grow up because your opinion of what is important evolves.  The kid who dreamed of being a blue kitten, graduated high school wanting to work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, graduated college wanting to be a food blogger traveling the world, now just wants to bring sustainable, well produced, clean, fair food products to people.  What exactly that means for my life is still in the air.  This time, I am not planning six steps ahead.  I am looking towards coming home for the spring, interning somewhere (hopefully on the west coast) and that’s it.  I am coming back to the US to work in a lifestyle completely different than the one I lived in before.  Who knows if I will ever “grow up”, but if I do, I know I will become something I can’t even imagine now.

Stay hungry friends,

-The Very Hungry Traveler

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