When Should a Person Know What They Want to be When They Grow Up?

It seemed so easy to answer this question when we were 10 – as the Daily Prompt post title suggests, there was a very short list of possibilities for our future career and the choices mostly had some charm or glamour to them.  We would do something interesting, perhaps noble.  Our choices were infinite, within that small realm of known careers – not affected by aptitude, finances, training, or all the little practicalities that popped up in the intervening years.


public domain, dancers at the Calla Travis School of Dance, 1936

public domain, dancers at the Calla Travis School of Dance, 1936

I was going to be an actress and a writer when I was 10.  But there was also this series of books about young women who were recruited in college to be operatives for the CIA or FBI – that was exciting.  I had several really awesome teachers and professors who opened my mind to new ideas, and to the thought that I might want to be that kind of educator.


My generation was incessantly told that we could be anything that we wanted, no limitations brought on by socio-economic standing, race, gender that previous generations had encountered; we were almost paralyzed by the breadth and depth of our choices and most of us ended up doing something quite ordinary and pedestrian (yet worthy, as regular readers know, I strongly believe that any vocation is honorable).  Finding work that allows us to participate, to contribute within our family and community brings life into a very different focus than answering the question at 10.


If we each asked all of the people that we know how they wound up doing what they do to earn money, I imagine that few will provide a deliberate path to their current work.  So is it any wonder that in job loss one of the stumbling points is this renewed grappling with the question of ‘what do I really want to be?’ now that the path forward is wide open again.


We each want to be valued in all facets of our life, and in the work portion we would like to earn enough money to be comfortable plus just a bit more.  Some people would like to do something simple and others love to be challenged.  Luckily there are a wide variety of tasks that we could do, we just need to figure out how to decide which is best for us and how to connect to the place(s) that would offer us opportunities.


So it seems that the answer to my opening question is, it depends.  What is your answer?


This post was written in response to Daily Prompt: Ballerina Fireman Astronaut Movie Star


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

1 Comment

Filed under Job Search, Personal Growth, Work Life

One response to “When Should a Person Know What They Want to be When They Grow Up?

  1. Pingback: Not there yet, but almost. | The Hempstead Man

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