It’s a question you were asked as a wee-little kiddo and one you’ve probably asked of some kid yourself.
Exactly “why” we ask it of kids when they are like 3 or 4 years old, I’m not sure. Are we trying to start goal setting at a young age? Are we wanting them to start planning their future before they have even learn to tie their own shoes? Exactly why we ask a young child what they want to be when they grow up I’m not sure; sometimes I think it is just for our own entertainment to hear what they will say. I always wanted to grow up to be a McDonalds worker when I was young, but then it changed to a policewomen, then a veterinarian, then a pediatrician, then a….
So we start at a young age thinking about what we want to take on as our “profession.” And unfortunately, from that point on, that question doesn’t seem to go away till one’s “profession” is established, or even then, sometimes the questioning continues. But one that does change throughout those years of questions is the thought behind answering the question and the multitude of possibilities that are discovered as possible answers to the question. Let’s face it, as a young child the choices are about limited to what dad does for a living, what mom does for a living, what the kid saw on Sesame Street that day, and what the dad of little Johnny from next door does. But as you get into the latterly years of high school, you start to think more seriously about the question because it determines if you choose college, or if you go straight into the workforce without college, and if you do choose college, what will you major in. But it isn’t like once you have made that move to college and even picked a major your answer is necessarily final. It’s interesting to see how many people graduate with a degree in one area and work in an area that is in no way related to their major from the past 4 (or more) years.
So in a sense, it is the never-ending question. What WILL I be when I grow up?
So maybe we don’t know what we want to be when we grow up. And it’s unfortunate that we feel as though the answer to this question is a life or death matter, when in actuality it isn’t. Sometimes I think the question takes on this quality because we DO start asking it at such a young age.
I’ll be honest, I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’ve honestly begun to believe that it isn’t necessarily the character you’ll be, but more whether you’ll have character. I honestly think the specific character role you play in life isn’t as important as whether you choose to have some character.
Think about it…
Who really cares what you were? What’s more important in life is who you were!
I don’t know anyone that would argue with the thought of being called an inspiration. What a great feat to be on your death bed and be remembered by many as an inspiration in their life!
He was someone who always put others before himself!
She was someone who befriended those most in need!
Believe it or not, a garbage collector has just as much of an opportunity to be an inspiration in someone’s life as does a doctor or a lawyer or a politician or an actor.
I just wish we’d all just spend as much time working on our character as we sometimes do on worrying about what character role we’ll play in life.
I say go after who you want to be in life, because the what comes from the who! Believe it or not, I think the what will kind of fall into place as the who is being established!
Maybe we shouldn’t ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But rather…
“Who do you want to be?”