“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

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“An astronaut!” eight-year-old me (pictured) would have told you…

… Or that I’d be a fire fighter, an inventor, a scientist, or a writer…

And I was at least partially right – I am a scientist, working towards inventing new cures for bacterial infections (I’ll admit this wasn’t the kind of invention I’d have dreamt of back then), and I do write all the time: research papers, songs, short stories, and now this blog too.

What I’m less sure of is whether or not I’ve “grown up” since. Yes, fourteen years have passed since this photograph was taken. Yes, I am now legally an adult. But some things haven’t changed: I still have a childish enthusiasm for trying anything new, for exploring anywhere new, and for learning; I never grew out of skateboarding, and it seems I never will; I still love Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and would still like to be a rock star. But most importantly, I’m the same happy little kid I was back then – as full of dreams, and as full of hope for the future.

I’ve had many ups and downs between then and now, and I won’t pretend things have always been easy. I could have done without many facets of high school, and without some of the unsavoury people I’ve met along the way. I’ve been hurt, disappointed, heartbroken, and at times desperately lonely. But what hasn’t killed me has made me stronger, and wiser – I’m now quicker to cut bad fruit from the tree, and quicker to let myself heal. I won’t repress my emotions, but also won’t let myself dwell on the past or things I can’t change (as I once did). I have learnt you do get what you give, and so now always give my all. And my ever-present existential anguish now serves to motivate me to seize the day, to live and love to my heart’s content, rather than keeping me up at night. I also never became I fireman…


Back then, my early twenties seemed impossibly far off, and boringly adult – as my thirties do now (and I hope to feel the same about my forties when I get there, too). Some of my friends complain of feeling stressed, tired and achey, bored of their lives, and burnt out, yet I feel as full of life and energy as ever. Life is beautiful, the possibilities endless, and the future still yet to be written. In the wise words of Conditions, “Youth is wasted on the young/ Life is wasted on the living ones” – I hope to never lose my youthful spirit, as time takes me ever further from the days of my youth.

And I still wonder what I’ll be when I grow up…



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