What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I was a kid, I had a collection of future career goals for myself. I think that I actually wanted to do all of them. Now that I’m much older, I know that there are truly not enough hours in the day to do five jobs simultaneously but, as a kid, I was not aware of that. Hey, I was going to school and I had to learn at least five subjects, so why not do five jobs simultaneously? So, anyway, the careers that I was hoping for were:

  1. astronaut/astronomer: I’m placing these together even though they are actually two separate jobs because, well, I figured that I couldn’t be in outer space all of the time… right??? 
  2. cartoonist: in fact, when I was fourth grade, I started drawing a comic strip. The main character was a boy named “Brim,” and the comic strip was titled (what else?) “Brim.”
  3. actress: I was shy but, on the stage, my shyness fled. The stage was a magical place, and I loved it. I thought that it would be great to have a career doing something so magnificent.
  4. writer: I was determined to write the Great American Novel. At various times, I bravely attempted to start the Great American Novel but figured that, by the time I became an adult, I would suddenly gain the attention span necessary to write a big book.

My dreams, for the most part, did not translate to later reality.

The astronaut dream met a quick and relatively painless demise. I found out that there is a test that potential astronauts have to take. It involves getting spun very quickly in something that resembles a centrifuge. You sit in it and it spins like an out-of-control amusement park ride. If you “toss your cookies,” you are disqualified. I tend to get motion sickness. According to MedicineNet.com, motion sickness is the feeling that you get when “the motion that you sense with your inner ears is different from the motion you visualize.” Your brain is receiving mixed signals from your ears and your eyes and that queasy feeling is the result. Later, I found out that, even if I could pass the centrifuge test without ruining the ride for everyone else, I would have been disqualified for poor eyesight.

So, I became a Trekkie instead. If I couldn’t be in outer space, at least, I could enjoy watching it on TV.

Astronomer: Alas, that did not work out, either, because astronomers have to be really good at… math! (my worst subject in school!). That dream ended fairly abruptly in high school. I still love to watch the stars. I can hardly wait for tomorrow, when the supermoon will rise.

Cartoonist: After Brim, I never drew another cartoon. I don’t know what happened to that dream. It just sort of disappeared.

Actress: That was the dream that suffered the most painful death of all of my childhood career dreams. I think that I wanted it too badly. I’m not sure that I ever had the talent to make that dream a reality. I gave it up, very reluctantly, in college. I still see the theater as a magical place. I’ve done some community theater and have even been in the chorus in a few operas since the dream passed away. So, maybe the dream didn’t totally die. 

Writer: I have yet to write the Great American Novel. I went to journalism school instead and, currently, I do some freelance work for a local newspaper. I write articles and I take the photographs to go with them. It’s been fun. I’ve covered just about anything that one could cover in a community: town board and school board meetings, road reconstruction, candidates for local office, tree plantings, local history, library activities, church events, and school events. I’ve interviewed some really interesting people. I am grateful to them for sharing their stories with me. It has been fascinating and enjoyable but not very lucrative.

I also do some work as a gardener. That was not a childhood dream. I really didn’t know anyone who tended gardens. I never thought about being a gardener. That falls under the category of “Life happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Knowing what I do now, if I were to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” I would choose from the following list:

  • entomologist: Insects are endlessly fascinating. They are also numerous. Approximately 75 percent of the members of the animal kingdom are insects. I could enjoy the study of insects for years to come.
  • botanist: the study of plants is very interesting. I would work to get over my math phobia to be either an entomologist or a botanist.
  • botanical illustrator: I still do a lot of art and combining botany and art seems like a good idea. I can’t change my dreams totally. I am still an artsy type and I have to remain true to that.
  • landscape architect: My work involves maintaining gardens, but I would very much enjoy designing the gardens. It is a very interesting, creative type of work.

So today’s question: If you were to answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up” today, how would you answer it? Is it the same or different as the list you made when you were a child?

2 thoughts on “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

  1. I wanted to be "just like Lois Lane" when I was a girl. If not that, a writer. I became neither. In fact, what I did become was part of a profession that I did not know anything about growing up. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

  2. I always wanted to be a teacher from the time I was old enough to realize I had to grow up to be something. I was a teacher for 38 years, and am now retired. I was fortunate enough to spend my career as my first and only choice.

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