My mum stood in the kitchen like she often did and asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. Being from a second generation Nigerian and Congolese household I knew this was a loaded question. Feet barely touching the ground, my seven year old self sat in a chair with a mouth lacking teeth but full of cheerios, my hair struggling to stay bound in a pony tail. “A farmer!” I said, the idea had been brewing in my mind for some time now and the words were enough to make me beam a toothless smile. But “farmer” was not the correct answer – who knew that when it came to choosing a career profit is more desirable than happiness. “Farmers have to clean up animal poop all day – think of something else.” she said. These harmlessly destructive words left me questioning what that “something else” might be.
I have been in school for years trying to find this out, and finally I have learned that my happiness does not look like large pay checks coupled with even larger student loans. It looks like pen to paper, writer to reader, joint to mouth.
That day in the kitchen was the last time I made a choice based purely out of love; all I knew was animals were great and that was enough. Today I make that choice again, to do what I love despite doubt and overwhelming fear.
So now when I’m asked what I want to be when I grow up I respond, this time with a mouth full of smoke, whatever the fuck I want to be.