What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

I was probably five or six years old when I first became aware of this question. For a long time, I responded with “I want to be a lawyer” not because I knew anything about the law or was even remotely interested in it. It was more the fact that this response seemed to attract the right amount of approval so I quickly settled on ‘lawyer’ as what I was going to be!

It’s interesting that this question is commonly directed at children. The intention behind it is clear. There is much to be gained from encouraging children to think, imagine and dream big, expansive dreams. On the one hand, it helps us build up an awareness of the possibilities that lie ahead. It can also help us to narrow down our focus as we get older. The way we answer this question however, can shape the way we see ourselves and eventually, what we are defined by.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It is a question about being that is often answered by what we do. We arrive at adulthood to discover that we are largely defined by our jobs. When people ask who we are, we respond with our name, closely followed by what we do. Sometimes unintentionally, career becomes the most important thing and over time we neglect or even shut the door on things we once loved; things we are actually passionate about.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Our answers rarely focus on who we are or who we are becoming.

I want to be kind. I want to treat people with respect whether they look like me or not. I want to be a person that listens well even when I disagree. I want to be bold and speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. I want to be light where there is only darkness.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

We hear it from such an early age that by the time we get to our twenties, we feel like we should have it all figured out. If we then get to thirty and haven’t made our first million (go figure!), we start to feel like a failure because we’re just not “there yet” – wherever we imagined “there” to be.

Yet you probably know (as I do), people in their twenties, thirties and even forties who are still figuring out just what they want to do with their lives. So then, since we are all on a journey, it’s okay to let go of the expectation that we should all get it right the first time.

Childhood dreams don’t always turn into our adult reality and we can beat ourselves up about it. If that’s you, remember this: picking a lane at any age doesn’t commit you to that lane for eternity. It takes time to understand the complexities of who we are and what makes us tick. We are constantly evolving, influenced by our background, experiences and circumstances.

I believe this is the part of us that we should pay more attention to.

Instead of focusing solely on fancy job titles, we could explore this question with a more holistic view. Our world right now is defined by blue ticks, likes and follows – just some of the ways by which we judge a person’s worth. A huge amount of emphasis is placed on what people do as a measure of their value when in truth, this has nothing to do with it.

Learning to see every person as equally valuable is far more important and will go much further in helping us to become all that we could be.

What do you want to be when you grow up assumes that we will all grow up. It assumes that we will all live to an age in the future where we can say “now, I’m grown up.. I have arrived at my goal.” Yet we all know people who have lost their lives young. Does that mean their lives lacked purpose? Of course not!

It is who we choose to be every single day that matters the most. It is our influence and the impact we leave on the people we encounter. What we do is important but I’m convinced that there is a much better way to live. I for one know that well beyond the age that I was classed as a grown up, I have continued to figure out who I am, what I want my life to represent and the things I allow to shape and define me.

So what did you want to be when you grew up? Did that dream come true? If not, what changed and who did you become in the process? In ten years time, what do you want to be because we are always growing and always changing. What talents, interests and passions have you left on the back burner because they didn’t look like money?

Too often we assume that we’ve got to become something that already exists yet we have it within us to create! We should be teaching our kids that life isn’t just about careers and academics. Life is equally about growing in confidence, empathy and compassion.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be purposeful. I want my life to impact and transform. I want to be defined by my heart and my passions, not just by my job title. I want to be fearless and creative. I want to serve others and use all the potential that’s inside of me. I want to look outwards instead of only at myself. I want to help change even just one person’s life because one is better than none. I want to be free to do whatever it is that God places in front of me and to do it well.

That’s the person I want to be!

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