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  • Writer's pictureFrancine Cunningham

When I grow up (2016)

You know what's kinda cool? I realized today that I am doing the things that I dreamed I would be doing when I grew up.

I always wanted (secretly) to be a writer but I thought because I was so bad at spelling and grammar that it was an impossible dream. Getting back essays with the notes, great ideas and good writing but poor construction and come on, how are you not better at spelling yet? was really deflating. So I never showed anyone my poetry or short stories. Although side note: before I knew what fan fiction was I wrote a fan fic Jurassic Park sequel and I still have it because I drew a cover, wrote credits, acknowledgements and bound it. So yeah. End side note. I also never believed that I could go to college, University wasn't even an option, because of how bad my grades in high school were. Like seriously I failed Math 10 three times.

So, I didn't tell anyone I wanted to be a writer. I had a brief moment of really wanting to be a hairdresser and makeup artist because I wanted to help people feel beautiful but that didn't stick around long, although I do still love doing makeup. And then it was my other secret dream, an artist. That one I finally did tell people about and it actually went over really well. My family bought me supplies, my mom let me use the spare bedroom as an art studio and my art teacher really encouraged me.

I was also encouraged in high school to think about becoming a teacher. But I was like, nah. That's not for me. Even though all my volunteer work was working with youth and in classrooms and stuff. Teenagers are weird. Well I was anyways.

So I worked on my portfolio and dreamed of art school. But then I graduated and my resolve faltered, I wasn't good enough, I was scared, so I took a year off. And then I read a play, Faust byJohann Wolfgang von Goethe, and realized that people could be actors for real. Like not just dreaming about it but for real. So I looked up how to be an actor on the computer and it said go to acting school. So I auditioned for a program and whoah, got in! It was my first time acting in front of anyone and man, I cringe thinking about it. I did the opening monologue from Faust. I didn't know girls weren't supposed to do boy's roles. I just loved it so I did it.

And then in theatre school I started to write monologues and my friends started performing them and it was cool. I kept writing poetry, in secret, and I loved acting. I graduated and moved to Vancouver to be an actress but then decided to go back to school, to really dig into theatre. Once there I started to take First Nation's Studies program courses and heard about a Writing With An Indigenous Focus class and signed up. This was the first time I showed my poetry to anyone, and not just one person but a whole table of people and strangers! I loved it. I took the class for the next three years of my degree and every year added more writing classes until in my last year I was basically taking all writing classes. I decided to do my MFA and to finally declare I want to be a writer! And honestly, everyone around me was like, yeah ok. So not that scary after all.

And now I have graduated with my MFA (did I mention I never thought I could ever go to college or University), am living as a writer AND I am still doing my art and starting to sell it AND I did end up being a teacher, well sometimes, not full time but I do teach and I love it.

So really what I am saying is, life is super cool. And sometimes you follow really weird paths but in my case it got me to places I never thought I could go, but secretly always wanted. And you know what makes me excited about that? I still have plans for when I grow up and I don't know how I am ever going to get there and they seem so far away and impossible but I just know that I'll do it. Somehow, through really twisted paths, and not being able to see the way ahead, I will do it.


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