What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

by Caleb Grabowski on April 4, 2014

I never really had a permanent answer to that question. I did some retrospective thinking earlier today and thought it would be an interesting exercise to plot out how that answer has changed as I’ve become who I am today. The framework is simple, and based solely on my own memory. I’m going to highlight what I wanted to be when I grew up and how old I was when I thought that.

Five years old: I loved my GI Joe action figures when I was young. So if you asked five year old Caleb what he wanted to be it would be something in that vein, not just a soldier, but actually a GI Joe. I probably would have wanted to be Duke or Snake Eyes, I had a lofty self-image then too.

Ten years old: The love of video games, primarily NES and SNES, is firmly rooted at this point. I remember being young and wanting to design and create my own video games. I remember drawing booklets for them, with all the weapons, monsters, maps, characters, everything. Different genres too, but basically Zelda, Mario, Mega Man, or Final Fantasy rip-offs, but hey imitation is the finest form of flattery after all.

Fifteen years old: Awkward teenage Caleb began developing his love for movies, and with that came the desire to direct films. I remember studying the opening credits of movies, learning who the actors were, discerning their importance by the sequencing of the names. I’ve tried to circle back and figure out exactly which movie did it for me, like what inspired me to love film, and there’s nothing specific. I do remember that Independence Day came out the summer of my thirteenth birthday, maybe that’s what did it. It was the first mega blockbuster I remember seeing in the theater alone. It was the summer my brother died, and I remember my family was in town and we were all going to the movies. Everyone else went to see Jack, and I waited in the theater for an hour and a half or so just waiting for it to start. Jack started like an hour before my movie, so I was just waiting. I remember the staff of the theater telling me to sneak into other movies to pass the time, so I watched bits and pieces of Kingpin and Chain Reaction waiting for Independence Day to start. When I finally watched it, I was blown away, the scale of it all, the special effects, Bill Pullman’s speech at the climax of the film, just everything blew me away. Thinking about it now, that had to have been the moment I fell in love with the cinema and film-making, and what stoked my passion to create my own movies.

Twenty years old: I’m in the military, stationed at Ft. Meade, just a few months from deploying to Iraq. At that moment, I think I wanted to just finish my initial enlistment and become a defense contractor. I got sucked into the idea of making money. On top of it all, working side by side with contractors who did basically the same job, but made almost double what I did, infuriated me. I locked my eyes on the prize and decided that when I got out of the Army, I was going to go into the private sector and was going to make that money.

Twenty-five years old: Mission accomplished, I’m a defense contractor, drinking the Kool-Aid, saving the free world from the hands of terrorists on a daily basis. This was an interesting moment in my life, I was separated from my wife, en route to divorce, and I honestly believed that I wanted to pursue life on the company side of the contract game. I accepted a promotion to become a ‘site lead,’ which is basically just a middle manager, I had a decent amount of people under me, and I was making good money. Life was good, I was single, I had money, no responsibilities, I didn’t think it could get any better. Until the monotony of being alone, surrounded by possessions, and with zero job satisfaction sank in, and boom here comes the cynical dick Caleb.

Thirty years old: Last summer, basically everything has changed. Out of the rat race that was the defense contracting game and back in school, pursuing my degree. When I think about what I want to be when I grow up now, it’s something much simpler than any specific career or job field, I just want to be happy. I’m tired of dealing with bullshit. I don’t care about making a ton of money anymore (although Mega Millions would be clutch), I just don’t want to be bothered with dumb shit anymore. Luckily, I think that’s where I’m headed.

Movie of the Week: Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (2013) is a documentary about Drew Struzan. Although, you may not know the name off the top of your head, I GUARANTEE that you are familiar with his work. If you’ve seen any movie poster in the last thirty years, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, literally hundreds of movies, you’ve seen his work. It’s an intriguing story of his life and journey through the music world, to the movie business, and finally to his retirement. If you like documentaries, I highly recommend watching.

Favorite Songs of the Week:

–          Stargazer Lily “Explode”

–          Desire “Under Your Spell”

–          System of a Down “Sugar”

Will Dutcher April 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I was, and to a degree, still am, on the same page as you with wanting to develop and create video games. I wanted to start a business with my brother and just do that, which I thought would be cool, but after listening to a lot of video game podcasts, it seems like there’s so much risk and turmoil in that market. Definitely rewarding if you’re an indie darling, but very tough for all the other “every-man” out there. I still wanna do it, though. Hell, we’re running our own website and podcast with little more than an online class and Google. I think we’re doing alright so far!

willy billy April 18, 2014 at 9:19 am

Two words…..pretzel logs

Caleb Grabowski April 18, 2014 at 10:19 am

But first you must master them. Only then can you beat the Amish market… Just kidding, I’m sure yours are fantastic

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