42 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Your 12-Year-Old Self

  1. I was so unhappy at age 12 that all I wanted to be was happy. It came true.

    Thanks, Jim. Have a great and happy Fourth!

  2. I wanted to be a writer, an actress, a ballerina, and a concert pianist.

    I danced all the way through college. Destroyed my feet, but had a great time. Still can’t watch a ballet without marking the steps and wanting to be up there.

    I did theatre until Covid. Some of my theatres are beginning to open. Hopefully I’ll get back to that.

    My piano sits under a foot of dust now. My flute hasn’t been out of its case in a long time. I’m not even sure where my violin is. My musician friends who knew me when I was a music director, choir director, piano and flute teacher, and played in the orchestra are horrified that except for singing in the church choir, music is no longer a part of my life. A dear friend (Julliard graduate I once played in orchestra with) had my flute overhauled as a birthday gift and returned it to me with a growl to “play the damned thing.”

    Writing has been a constant, even if all I did were morning pages. Occasionally I got paid for it. Hopefully I will be again.

    • I’ve got a banjo sitting in a case waiting for me to get it out and start learning how to play.

  3. We moved to a new house, new school–junior high–where everyone was still clicqued up from their elementary schools. Outsider looking in, and nothing much has changed.

  4. Like Terry, I was an outsider. Like Joe, I was unhappy. I did well in academics and athletics, but because my parents were so conservative, I never fit in. So, I wanted to be an insider, the typical middle-grade psychological turmoil.

    Interestingly, I ended up as a rebel, by choice. Is it genetics or upbringing (nurture or nature)? Or both?

    • RCMP For The Win Garry!
      I had looked into joining but Alaskans are not Canadian no matter what some tourists think.

  5. I wanted to not have to answer this question at 12 (literally, I hated my teachers for asking). My parents said no to literally all art forms I wanted to do–acting no, singing no, pottery no until some teenager was willing to help me. Was it because we had no money at the time, or because they were afraid I’d actually want to make a career out of it.

    Fun fact, when I was eight I wanted to be an ice cream shop owner, so I could eat all the ice cream I wanted.

    • Sounds familiar AZAli. My experience was flipped to some degree, no to all sports. I wanted to play soccer very much, but first son of four kids only got to do those arts that cost nothing. So theater and choir were it.

  6. I wanted to be a pilot. At 15 I took my first flight lesson. I flew a plane before I drove a car. It was the early 80’s. I went to airplane school. I had a pilot’s license when before I was 18. I didn’t want to go into the military. The first Gulf war was like a class reunion. My 1991 alumni newsletter had at least a dozen entries of “Capt. xxxx served in Desert Storm…” I have 250 flight hours and have flown once since graduation.

    My two careers now didn’t even exist in 1983 when I graduated college. There were 1,000 Domino’s Pizzas in the US. Papa John was a manager for Pizza Hut and most people could not get pizza delivered at all. You needed to be a math major to be a computer scientist which meant programmer.

    In a few seconds I will hit save and this little story will circle the globe. Stuff of Sci Fi movies in 83. On my wall is my pilot’s license, a picture of N4941A, the last plane I flew in college, now sitting in the grass in front of a school building I never took classes in. There is also a picture of Princess One and Princess Two, the passengers on my last flight in 2017, a short 30 year gap in my log book. Something else 12 year old Al and 20 year old Al never thought of. Daddyhood.

  7. Truck diver. Didn’t have many asperations when I was young. I’ve changed a lot of the last thirty plus years. Never would I ever had imagined living the life I do now.

  8. When I was 12, I wanted to be a poet. Here is how that links up to the present: throughout grammar and high school, I wrote poetry and had a few published in local newspapers. As I neared the end of my library career, my rhyming poems morphed into prose poems. Then I discovered flash fiction and got several of those published in small literary journals. A few people, whose opinions I respected, suggested I expand a particular flash piece. That story formed the germ for my first novel.

  9. I forgot to mention one important link to the present: I met my husband of 30 years on a poetry posting board for employees at a large company where we both worked.

  10. I wanted to spend all my time in the library, and make up stories. Turns out, I got to do both. My 12-year old self would consider 60-year old me to have been extremely fortunate.

  11. When I was growing up, I always assumed I would teach math in high school. I used to sit on the floor in my bedroom and work out math problems on my blackboard which I had leaned against the foot of the bed.

    When I graduated from college with a degree in math, I realized it wasn’t the teaching that I loved. It was the problem-solving. That led to a career in software development and, more importantly, a desire to take on challenges.

    And that led me here.

  12. That was a looong time ago, but my desires never really changed until I was an adult. I wanted my eldest brother to die/go away. I was a nice kid, but he was a monster going after my younger siblings, and I took the abuse so they wouldn’t have to. I wanted a horse, and I was going to be a writer and a teacher. All came true eventually.

  13. At 12 I wanted to be a poet/singer-songwriter/artist (a la Dan Fogelberg…) and/or, thanks to the Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts – an architect…
    And today… at ##…
    Poet – well, I still scribble…
    Singer – in the shower…
    Songwriter – still scribbling and noodling on the strings… with two songs paying low three figure royalties from a cable show (Hart of Dixie)…
    Artist – a part of what I do during the day job… and when I’m out-n-about (and the fish aren’t bitin…)
    Architect – well, that’s the day-job – though I never thought it would be in healthcare or as enjoyable (most of the time), as it’s turned out to be (they just pay me for the staff beatings…😉 )

    Still wondering what I’ll be when I grow up…

      • Non-credited, “jukebox” background music in the bar, both are towards the end of their respective episodes – You can hear the chorus/tag (which relates to the story line/plot), but then dialog “walks all over” the rest of the lyrics…
        One is “Hard At Work At Hardly Working (and Putting in for Overtime)…
        T’other is “I Hate to Say You Told Me So”

        I’d always wanted to earn enough to send the boys to college… just not one book at a time… 😋

          • Thank you~!

            I think they’re in season 2 or 3 – where the show titles are classic country song titles… but it’s been a while, and I’ve slept since then…

  14. When I was 12, I wanted to be a famous singer. And a Navy nurse. And an only child, please God. (What I expected God to do with my existing siblings at the time, I can’t remember.) And, I wanted to be married and have a family.

    So, 2 3/4 out of 4 ain’t bad.

    I was a vocal music major in college, and did spend several decades in the music gig. (But not famous…worth 1/2.)

    Never enlisted in the Navy, nor became a nurse. (But, I was an orthopedic surgeon’s medical assistant for almost a decade, so I’ll give myself another 1/4.)

    God didn’t do anything with my siblings until we were all adults…now there’s just 2 of us left. If only I’d cherished them more when I was a kid…

    I did get married, twice, and have children, g-grandchildren, and a few greats.

    What does all that have to do with now? Fodder for stories… 🙂

  15. My dad was an MD, so that was settled…until I chose engineering at 15. He didn’t argue, though I think he was disappointed. I never wanted to be an inventor, an actor, a psychologist, a teacher, or a speaker, but I have 2 patents, an IMDb page, 4 papers on brain structure, taught college, and presented papers to as many as 500 people. Someone in Psych told me I should have been a psychiatrist, and my next novel is based on my own brain theory, so maybe that aligns a little with 12-year-old me, at last.

  16. I wanted to move west and run my own horse ranch. That was before I understood that it wasn’t like the 1800’s and that there was no land left to homestead and it costed megadollars. LOL!

    Real life isn’t nearly that interesting. That’s why I write stories. 😎

  17. I wanted to be a US Marine, then a pastor, and an actor.

    I did all three…sorta.

    Joined the Marines at 19, busted up my knees and ankles during basic training and never got to earn the title. Those injuries did eventually net me a spiffy pair of titanium knees and a future hip replacement though, so there is that. And that unrequited experience led me to writing the military and historical fiction genres I love to live that life vicariously through my characters.

    I did become a pastor and actively taught and mentored in churches for over 25 years, primarily with the children of Korean immigrant families, and second-generation youth and young adults. Now focusing that part of my calling on building a Christian audiobook publishing imprint creating audio bibles and helping pastors get their books into audio.

    On that note, I am a professional actor, recording audiobooks for major publishers and indie authors alike, including a couple big names here.

  18. I wanted to design automobiles. Teachers, parents all said I couldn’t do that. Sadly, I believed them. Kids are like that. Whatever your kids aspire to, be encouraging, be supportive because the alternative might kill a dream.

  19. At age 12 almost 13, I wanted to be popular with my friends and to be noticed by one particular girl that was completely out of my league, a 15-year-old cheerleader, to whom I was completely invisible of course.

    Careful what you wish for. One morning while walking up the stairs to the second floor classrooms, I was directly behind her. She was wearing her cheerleader skirt and putting on quite a show. Some cad behind me jumped up and put his armpit on my shoulder and I thought WTF? From this perch he reached up to give her marvelous left butt cheek a whole hand pinch.

    I was startled and knocked off balance, in great danger of stumbling forward and planting my face where his hand had been. So I grabbed the handrail to steady myself.

    She whirled around with a slap locked and loaded. Our eyes met for the first time, hers angry and mind simple panic. I was about to say, “It wasn’t me!” but I was too slow. Smack! My ears rang. Apparently once a slap is locked and loaded, It becomes very much like a hand grenade with the pin pulled. Having only a 5 second fuse, it must be thrown without delay. I did not know this fact at the time.

    I arrived at my next class and was ready to deny any wrongdoing, but I was again too slow. Word of my daring deed had already arrived. All the guys were congratulating me for “copping a feel” on the cheerleader as some put it. Most surprising was the girls were not mad at me as I expected. I thought they would regard an attack on one, surely including something as egregious as a butt squeeze, was an attack on all which would invoke their mutual defense treaty. Instead the girls had a strange look in their eyes, like I might be something they would give a second look at rather than completely ignore as had been the case up to that point.

    Since the cheerleader lived just 2 blocks from my house and walked nearby on her way home, I got up the courage to catch up to her and blurt out, “It wasn’t me.” I half expected another slap.

    It didn’t come. Instead she said, “I didn’t think so.”

    Of course, my reply was, “Then why did you slap me?”

    “Well, I had to defend my honor and you were right in the line of fire.”

    As if I was supposed to understand such complicated issues of female logic at my tender age. We talked for a while longer as we walked to her house. I got my wish, she noticed me. And with that event, I became somewhat popular with my peers. I never did tell anyone other than the cheerleader the truth and she gave me permission to withhold it from others, saying, “Well, you paid for the ticket, you might as well enjoy the ride.”

      • This one and a baker’s dozen more (what does cow shit taste like?) are contained within my current 120k word WIP. Now at the point of seemingly endless trims and adds. After several careful reads for typos by myself, my proofreader and SmartEdit software, we still find yet another but the frequency is declining. Should be in my editor’s hands before summer’s end.

        Win, lose or draw, it’s been fun. The observation of ageism within trad publishing was very interesting to me. Having three quarters of a century in the rear view mirror, indy looks like the way for me to go. Everyone on this site has been most helpful. Thanks.

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