When I Grow Up--Jan Blazanin

Not long ago, a good friend’s daughter graduated from preschool. The kids made little mortarboards and wore them as they marched in a graduation ceremony. She didn’t say who was selected valedictorian, but potty training skills were probably a criterion.

Today schools hold graduation festivities for kindergarteners, fifth graders going into middle school, and eighth graders moving on to high school. And that's just the beginning.

During my distant childhood, we didn't have all those graduation ceremonies. But relatives and family friends still asked the inevitable question, “What are you going to do when you grow up?" For me, the answers weren't easy.

Preschool was held at my grandparents' house in Adel. My grandmother Eva was lead teacher, teacher's aide, cook, entertainment director, and head of housekeeping (AKA changing what needed to be changed.) My graduation occurred when my feet finally reached the ground. Cookies and milk were served. I wanted to be...an acrobat? Don't think so.
Grandma Eva encourages me to fly high.

Ah, kindergarten! Those days of blocks, sandboxes, and mandatory unwanted naps. We learned to write our names and numbers. We read about Dick, Jane, and Spot. I graduated at the ripe old age of five with a love of books, cats, and dogs. My goal was to be a cat when I grew up.
My favorite dress made by Aunt Carol.
By the end of eighth grade, reading had become a passion. My English teacher, Mrs. Russell, praised and encouraged my writing. I enjoyed it but never considered trying to make a living at it. Too risky. I dreamed of a more stable career like acting or painting.
My eighth grade graduation dress.
My favorite high school subjects were English literature, art, drama, and French. Journalism was okay, but there was just too much writing. Whew! My graduation plans were to go to college and figure it out from there. But art and/or acting were still at the top of my list.
Class valedictorian Kris, me (salutatorian), and college man brother Dan.
It took about 10 minutes at Grand View for me to realize art and acting were not in my future. Instead I decided to save the world with sociology. Mom said, "Get your teaching degree. You'll always have it to fall back on." Teaching was the last thing I wanted to do. After two years of studying, I still had no practical skills.
My Grand View GPA was 4.00, but I had no career skills. 

I graduated from Iowa State University with great grades but no idea what I wanted to do except maybe be an airline attendant. With a major in sociology and a minor in psychology, I wasn't qualified to do much of anything. But look at that tan!
With my brother Dan, Dad, and Mom. 
Five years after college graduation I earned my Masters of Science in Teaching, became a teacher, and taught for almost three decades. My parents breathed a sigh of relief that I was finally established in a career. When I started writing in the 90s, my students became a captive audience. Mom read some of my early stuff, but neither of my parents lived to see my books published.

It took a few years to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up, but some decisions can't be rushed.


  1. 8th grade graduation used to be a bigger deal, back in the days when high school wasn't considered part of one's basic education.

    I still think being a cat is a fine aspiration. I see the life my cat leads. ;-)

    1. You're right. My cats and dogs rule the house!

  2. Cheers to taking our time to figure it out!

  3. Loved this post...and the photo timeline. Mine ran in parallel except I went into mental health, then became a librarian before the writing bug hit in the 90's. Sometimes it's better to grow up on a different schedule.

    1. I'm amazed at people who have it all figured out when they're ten. It just took us a little longer to find ourselves!

  4. LOVE these pics, Jan. I especially love that 8th grade dress...

    1. Thanks, Holly! My taste in clothes has changed a little since then.


Post a Comment