I was always the kid who, when asked the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, could never reply with just one answer.
A flight attendant. A hair dresser. A foot doctor. A singer. A poet. A songwriter. An author. A teacher. A journalist. The president.
The list went on and on, and was ever-evolving. It became a joke among my closest friends — one that still gets laughed about today.
My list of aspirations remains vast. It’s changed a lot over the years, but I still cannot pinpoint one role I’m supposed to have or one purpose I’m supposed to serve.
And that’s okay. I’m not sure we’re every meant to know exactly what we’ll “grow up” to be.
So why do we continue to ask this question? Why do we force children to answer this as soon as they are able to comprehend the idea of a career? Why does this question follow us all the way through college, with friends, family, teachers, professors, boss’ all constantly asking us what we want to do?
We think we must have an answer to this question. So we decide on a career path for ourselves, because it’ll seem as though we’re going nowhere in life if we don’t have a clear goal, correct?
The truth is, that’s not the case. No one ever really judges you for not knowing exactly what you want to grow up to be.
But because that question has become so common, a fixture of the way our society looks at life, a focus through all stages of our education system, we’ve been conditioned to think having an answer will make or break our success.
I say this as someone who spends too many minutes each and every day thinking about the path I’m charting for myself. I have this fear of not knowing where I’m headed next. I am always thinking in terms of the future — what’s my next move? is my current role setting me up for success? where do I see myself in five years? how about ten years? am I doing enough? can I do more?
It’s overwhelming. And I’m learning to believe it doesn’t have to be that way.
I’m learning to believe that life is a lot less about “figuring it out” and a lot more about living in the moment, finding purpose in our day to day lives, and most importantly seeking true happiness for ourselves.
That’s not to say we should throw our goals and dreams to the wind and live life on a whim. While that might work for some, it won’t work for those, like me, that need to have some structure in the way they live their life.
But that is to say that living in such a way that allows life to come to us, as opposed to seeking the life we imagine we’re meant to lead, has merit.