How often do you question and wonder about what role you want to be playing in the future? The thought about who I will be and what I will be doing in 5, 10, 15, even 30 years down the roads passes through my mind nearly every day. It’s the beauty of being human; we are constantly changing, growing, and propelling forward.
When we were little, the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was thrown to us from everyone we met. My answer was always changing but the answer was always defined by the same constant – as a child, I chose my career choice based on what made me happy:
When I was 6 my answer was an elementary school teacher. I wanted to follow in my mom’s foot steps and I liked to boss people around. But in hind sight I also liked sharing my newly learned tools with people. I’d spend hours setting up a fake school room and teaching my imaginary students that week’s spelling words or mathematical time tables.
When I was 11 I wanted to be an actress. I loved the way movies and plays made me feel, the power that actresses had to tell stories, to evoke emotions, and how they seemed to ignite with life.
At 13 I wanted to be child psychologist because I wanted to help children that couldn’t vocalize their pain or confusion. I wanted to help kids overcome unhealthy or dangerous environments and understand their thought processes.
At 15 I wanted to be an anthropologist/historian – I loved learning and researching about history – especially the history of society and domestic life. I wanted to learn more about trends and why certain aspects of history happened and continue to repeat themselves. I wanted to compare past narratives to current narratives, to learn more about the human race and our connections to the past.
At 18 I wanted to be a fictional write. Poetry, novels, short stories, screenplays, a playwrite. Anything. I wanted to examine people, analyze life, and write stories. I wanted to find common truths, common loves, common understandings of the meaning of life and communicate them and connect with readers through words.
All of these fields were based on activities that I was deeply interested in and that made me happy. Yet, I never got paid to do any of those things. None of these jobs ever became my career. I don’t consider my current job my career. My job does not define who I am. I believe my career is the life long pursuit of happiness.
So, when your career isn’t serving the purpose of fulfilling your passions you may feel a little disjointed. As you get older, your peers, elders, and family stop asking you what you want to do with your life. As an adult you are overcome with too many other daily questions and worries. Yet, the responsibility to ask “what do you want to be when you grow up?” now lies solely in your hands.
What is your passion? Don’t let it get lost in the mundane day-to-day responsibilities of life. I recently received some great advice to examine your tears. Think about it. What makes you cry?
Reflect back on the past couple of years. What has never failed to make you cry tears of joy? (perhaps you’re not a crier like me, then think about what has made you laugh uncontrollably or get angry or mad?) Once you discover what that is, find a way to incorporate that into your every day life. Do a little piece of that each and every day.
Perhaps it will be a simple hobby or something you only think about a few minutes a day. Nurture it, believe in it. Perhaps it will grow into something greater. Pinpoint your passions and find a way to live them. You’re never too old.
So tell me, what do you want to be when you grow up?