When I Grow Up I Want To Be…

When you were little did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

I mean really know? And, more importantly, is that what you became?

I wanted to be, among other things, an investigative reporter, a flight attendant, a ballerina, a meteorologist (not the “weather girl” on the news, but the person who actually predicted the weather – as if that’s a real job!), a lawyer, and tall.

At least I got to be a lawyer.

I can honestly say, though, that with all of my potential careers I never once contemplated the path to get there. I just thought that I would go to college – because that was what I was supposed to do – and then I would find a job – because that’s what I was supposed to do. I moved through my education believing that I would find a job somewhere, doing something, even if it wasn’t the perfect job because that’s what we were supposed to do.

Even when I started law school I never contemplated the possibility that I wouldn’t find work after graduation.

Yes, I was young and stupid and a couple of months before law school graduation—when I still didn’t have a job—I realized my naivete.

I’m so glad it took that long.

As a freshman in college I never once thought I better not switch my major from business to journalism because I’ll never get a job. If I really thought about the lack of job prospects in college and law school I would have been paralyzed.

Enter my 19-year-old.

He recently returned home from his freshman year in college with a lot of angst about his major. He didn’t like his biology classes as much as he thought he would but he didn’t want to switch majors because he thought this was a good path to get a job.

Who is this kid??

My husband and I have never told our kid that he should set his sights on a “practical” major (although my husband has suggested that he take some business classes but my son is like me and just hearing the words “Accounting 101” puts him to sleep).

Now, I know that taking some business classes can’t hurt but the Liberal Arts student in me sees as much value in a writing class or an improv class as Stats or Econ.

It’s a good thing my kid is thinking about his future but I don’t want him to stress out about finding “his thing” at 19. That’s what he said, “Science is my thing. What else will I do?”

A thing??

I didn’t realize you were suppose to have “a thing” as a freshman in college. When I started college I thought college was the time to figure out your thing, and also meet people and be inspired.

I started college as a business major because I thought it was a practical choice. I think I was two weeks into business ethics and accounting when I jumped ship and switched to Liberal Arts and Sciences. I knew what my thing wasn’t: it wasn’t being an accountant or a marketing executive. I shared my experience with my kid and tried to explain to him that it is just as important to know what you don’t like as it is to know what you do like.

Yes, I know that the current job market sucks and college is very expensive so taking random classes with no definable path is not always prudent. But I don’t want my kid to keep taking classes in a field he is not interested in on the off chance that he might get a job in a field he has no interest in. Chances are that he will end up getting a job in a different field entirely and what a waste of time and money.

But that’s just me.

When I was in college there were definitely people who knew exactly what they were going to do with their lives and they did it. My brother was always going to be a doctor and he is. But I also know an English major who wanted to write the next Great American Novel but started a hedge fund instead, a music major who went into medical sales instead of cutting a record, and an education major who started a yoga studio. They are all very successful and extremely happy with their choices. They also have great skills, interesting hobbies and maybe even a new chapter waiting for them when they grow up.

As for me, I still don’t know what, or who, I want to be when I grow up – right now it’s a toss up between Emily Blunt and Emma Stone.

I have a better chance of being tall but I’m keeping my options open.

What about you? What did your career path look like?

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mary on May 13, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    One of your best. Keep up the good work.



  2. I want a do over.
    I wish I had my entire life ahead of me again.
    But then I still wouldn’t know what the hell I would want to do with it.



  3. I had no idea what I wanted to be. I switched majors like crazy. Then I settled on Accounting (because my boyfriend at the time, who is now Husband) and I had friends who were Accountants with their own houses and new cars, blah, blah, blah. I was a semester and a half away from graduation, getting great grades and even a winner of a business award or two, when it hit me – I did NOT want to be an accountant. I did not like it – at all. I had a couple drinks with some friends over happy hour and the next day went to the college advisor. I told him science was it and asked which major in science would get me graduated the fastest. It was Microbiology (with me cramming in lots of credits per semester and doing summer school). That is how I ended up with a BS in Micro.
    It is now 14 years later and I have a Masters in Education and 8 days away from finishing my first year teaching second grade. I am also with you – not sure if this is the final career for me. It is for now and I guess I have to be alright with that.
    Kudos to your son for his forward thinking and for following his passion. And I have to say, science is pretty cool. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


    • You are a great example for me to share with my son. He, and most of his friends, have gone off to college with this very narrow plan and I think most college students change their minds – a lot. So do most people I know (I think the average career change is 7 times during a lifetime). I just want him to keep an open mind – it may be a different science but he will never know until he tries.



  4. This totally resonated with me. I, too, had a pretty roundabout path finding my “thing.” How can any kid really know what they want to do at age 19–our worldview is so narrow at that age, and we’re still figuring out who we are. I count myself lucky that now, in my mid-forties, I’m starting to figure it out and have found work that I am passionate about.



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