We start hearing this question at a very young age, normally sometime during elementary school. I still hear it today-I’m almost nineteen-although in some other variation. Most of us when asked this question think about what job we plan to have, and if we’ll be married with kids, etc. But who’s to say that when you’re out of college and starting the rest of your life that you’re all grown up? Every second of every day we are all growing. As people, we develop not only in height and age, but our personality and maturity develop as well. I think the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” should be more about what we want to continue to be as we grow. For example, I want to continue to be kind as I grow as a person in my life. We are still growing even when we’re about to turn eighty years old and watching our grandkids grow up. There’s always a chance to change, and become someone you’ve always wanted to be, or do something you always planned. I was determined to go to Italy the summer following my sixteenth birthday, but I didn’t get the chance. It doesn’t mean I won’t go! I’ve always had an interest in animals, and have wanted to go to Africa and be a zoologist. Most likely when I get out of college, I will hopefully find a career in publishing or something along those lines as I continue my journey to become an established author. Just because I might be considered “all grown up” and set in my life, doesn’t mean I can’t get another job and expand my horizons and travel to Africa. We are always growing and there’s always chances to do what you want. You just have to pounce on the opportunity when you get it. If you miss it, you’re still growing up even when you’re married with kids at 35, it’ll come back around. You just have to be brave enough to take it.
I think one of the scariest things about growing up is not knowing where we’re headed, or what will happen to us. Will we be successful, or fail miserably? It’s all about your approach. You make your bed, and you have to lay in it. Strive for something. Make a difference and make sure you succeed. Don’t put your life in the hands of fate. I believe in fate, and that everything happens for a reason. But fate won’t bring you success if you don’t even try to achieve anything. As for me, I’m afraid of the future, I think everyone is a little, even if they won’t admit it, but I kind of like the idea of not knowing. It’s scary and thrilling at the same time.
As a tween, like many other girls, I was obsessed with the Twilight Saga. I read the books, and watched the movies. My point here is that the valedictorian’s’ graduation speech is something I want to add to this: “When we were five, they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Our answers were things like, Astronaut, President or in my case, a Princess. When we were ten, they asked again. We answered rock star, cowboy or in my case, a gold medalist. But now that we’ve grown up, they wanted a serious answer. Well, how about this – who the hell knows? This isn’t the time to make hard and fast decisions, this is the time to make mistakes. Take the wrong train and get stuck somewhere. Fall in love – a lot. Major in Philosophy because there is no way to make a career out of that. Change your mind and change it again because nothing’s permanent. So make as many mistakes as you can. That way someday when they asked what we wanna be, we won’t have to guess – we’ll know.”
I just love that speech. We’re expected at 17 or 18 years old to know what our career is, what we should go to college for, and where life will take us. No one knows! Career plans, majors, and passions all change. It could change within a few years, or within a few minutes. Find something you’re in love with, passionate about, and something you get excited talking about. If you can’t stop yourself from talking too fast because you’re so excited, or if someone tells you you’re eyes light up when you talk about it, do it. Do what you love, because your happiness trumps everything.
What I wanted to be when I grew up changed several times. I started with being a dance teacher, to horseback riding instructor, to zoologist, to journalist, to psychologist, to writer. Ever since elementary school, English has always been my favorite subject. I’ve always had a passion for writing, which is evident in the fact that I spend my spare time writing pieces like this. I feel writing is a good way for me to express myself, and all of the things I’m afraid to say. As a writer, I don’t just have to focus on one thing, I can write about anything that inspires me. I can write about the art of dance, or how I’m so against horse racing, yet can’t help but watch the derby. I can go on a trip to Africa, take pictures, and write about my experiences. That’s one of the things I love about writing; it doesn’t restrict me, I can go anywhere with it.
I’m not really sure how I ended up here with this piece. I began with growing up; but somehow I, again, ended up telling you about my passion for writing. But I guess that’s just it. Growing up is about discovering your passions, and finding out who you are and what you want to make of your life.
So the next time someone asks you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” don’t think there’s only one opportunity to ‘grow up’.