Adults love to ask this question of small children, but really we could keep asking ourselves this question throughout our lives. Very few of us answer this question in the same way at the different stages of our lives.
I had stopped thinking about this question in relation to myself once I got into my twenties but then one day there were a bunch of us moms waiting outside the preschool to pick up our kids. We were all going through kindergarten screening with our children and we learned that one mom had kept her daughter in preschool for an extra year ‘because she wanted to give her a better chance of knowing what she wanted to be when she graduated high school’. My response, before I even thought about it, was that I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.
My generation was told endlessly by parents and educators that we could be anything that we wanted to be – the sky was the limit – because we were part of the first wave that had less limits in opportunities than previous generations had experienced. It paralyzed a lot of us, this too vast landscape. I dabbled in various things in college because I had a lot of interests. Then I felt strongly that I wanted to be home with my kids.
So why do we all do what we do? Expediency? Passion? Fear? Inertia?
I have continued to dabble as an adult – I’ve worked in food service, a library, retail, an office. I have worked at various levels within organizations and in organizations of various sizes. Counting my volunteer work gives even more nuance to the list. There has not appeared to be continuity in my efforts, yet I have found themes that cross these experiences and the variety feeds my writing as well.
It has been said repeatedly that the old norm of working for the same company throughout your work life is extinct for the most part. Perhaps then it would be good for each of us to ask ourselves this question every so often.
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