THE BLOG

Confidence Is in the Eye of the Beholder

10/30/2013 10:26 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

When I was 5 years-old my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I wanted to be an acrobat. When I was nine, again I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I replied, "a movie star, pop sensation!" When I was 11 the same question was asked; what do you want to be when you grow up? I told her a poet. I am 16 years-old now and it seems that everybody, especially my mom, wants to know what I want to be when I grow up. I'll let you in on a little secret: I don't know.

When my cousin was 19 and a sophomore in college she shaved her head for Baldrick's Foundation for kids with cancer. The foundation has the participants of the "head-shaving" get donations from friends and family to donate to the charity. My cousin Jen received over 1,000 dollars in pledges. That same year, right after the chop, I received my confirmation and asked her to be my sponsor. A sponsor is the adult advocate that helps you receive the sacrament.

Within a week of my confirmation the pictures were uploaded. People came up to me at school and said how sorry they were about Jen being sick. I corrected them and said she had shaved her head for charity. Of course people apologized and it was never brought up again.

Jen is extremely warm-hearted and shaving her head for charity is only one of the many amazing things she has done. Jen has also always known what she wanted to do, which was going into the Peace Corps. I remember a conversation we had before she went off to college at University of Illinois and listening to her say she wanted to go into English and literature. I asked her what she wanted to do with that and she then began to described to me in detail how she would take that to the Peace Corps. Of course being about 13 and not understanding the legitimacy of the Peace Corps, I didn't understand a lot of that conversation, but it did stick with me how ready she was to serve others. Now I am three years older and understanding a little more than my 13 year-old self, and I have come to understand a little better now. The Peace Corps is kind of a big deal.

Before, I said I don't really know what I wanted to do, but; I have an idea in the works. I love history; the study of ancient culture specifically. I am also really into the whole Indiana Jones vibe, "anthropology," if we are being politically correct. I also love travel and recently got into the "go out and change the world and other inspirational quotes" field like Jen. My idea is to be an anthropologist and travel the world helping people in the rural communities I work by. So basically an Indiana Jones minus the guns and violence.

I look back at the picture of Jen and me from confirmation. Now that I'm two years older I see it differently. I see a young me, a freshman, adjusting to high school and trying to figure out who I am. I see Jen, confident, in college, and bald. I look at us now too. She is a senior at University of Illinois and receiving her degree in May. Her hair has grown back of course. I am a junior, living in Iowa, and everyone asks me the one question that every junior gets asked: What do you want to be when you grow up? What are your goals? And where do you want to go to college? A Daria quote applies best here: "My goal is not wake up when I am 40 with the bitter realization that I've wasted my life on a job I hate because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens."

In conclusion, when I grow up I want to be happy and help people like my beautiful, caring, outgoing hero -- my cousin Jen.

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