We’ve all either been asked or have asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Its adorable to hear a 3 year old say a firefighter. Its ambitious when a 6 year old says a professional skateboarder and encouraging when a 12 year old says an architect. It’s highly acceptable when an 18 year old says a doctor. But what about when a 38 year old says “I don’t know”?
I would of course be talking about myself, and I’m sure countless others. As far back as I can remember there hasn’t just been one thing I wanted to be when I grew up. I definitely went through stages starting with a ballerina at about 5 years of age to an astronaut, an author, an anthropologist, a dolphin trainer/oceanographer and finally a psychologist which is what I was on when I graduated high school. So naturally I went to school for Psychology. Hey, it was better than being undeclared. I was SURE that I wanted to be a guidance counselor. That was of course until I graduated and lost the motivation to continue accruing debt by furthering my education. So I did the next best thing: I became a social worker.
I now know that this was not the wisest career choice for me. To be completely honest, the word career never stirred anything in me the way I see it does for others. I couldn’t see myself climbing a ladder to the top of whatever industry I landed on. The drive just wasn’t there. The drive was instead directed at starting a family, which of course begins with finding Mr. Right. (WHY O WHY?!!)
So began my career of stay-at-home mom. It is an amazing career to have and an extremely difficult one. I spent every minute of every day trying NOT to ruin my children for the rest of their lives while still trying to be a good wife. It may have been the most exhausting job I’ve had to date. And the one with the least appreciation shown for the work I did. (I think that had more to do with the Mr. Right that wasn’t right for me than anything else, but…) Somehow in the mix of it all I lost my sense of self. The only things I knew about myself were I loved read (perhaps mostly as an escape) and go Latin dancing (a side effect of marrying a Dominican). I was pretty good at both. Add to that an increase to the amount of journaling (which is apparently not a word) I did as a release.
Thanks to those journals I’m able to look back at the horrible state I was in. I truly loved that I was able to be home with my boys, raising them the way I thought was best, but I wasn’t taking care of myself in the process. I was too worried with what other people thought about me than what I thought about myself. Forget what I thought (as in there was no thought) about who I was as an individual in the midst of the life that was happening around me. Wife and mother of 3 who likes to read and dance does not describe ones identity now does it? It’s more of a description found in a personal ad. (Do they even have personal ads in the paper anymore? Does anyone READ a paper anymore?)
What does any of this have to do with what you want to be when you grow up?
I’m glad you asked (even if the “you” I’m referring to is the voice in my head). I say all this to develop a sense of how someone my age can still not know what they want to do. Sometimes life happens and you get pulled by it rather than steering it in the direction you want to go. And once you miss your turn to “Fulfilling Future-land” it can get discouraging retracing your steps to find the correct turn-off again. BUT it’s worth the trip back to get to where you were intended to be in the first place. I can say this with confidence because I am on my way back and getting closer to my destination. And this time I’m steering. It’s as if everything that has happened to me in the last several years has been my about-face. I’ve learned some critical things about myself that are key in determining what I want to be. I know that I love to serve others and that I’m good at it. I know I don’t have to be at the top of the ladder to be fulfilled, and I don’t have to feel bad about that. My best job so far has been as an Administrative Assistant. I woke up actually looking forward to going to work and feeling like I did my best and that my best was appreciated everyday when I left.
So does that mean I want to be an AA when I grow up? Perhaps. If it’s for the right individual/company. There is one other avenue to consider however. What I didn’t mention about my time in college is that I was just shy of having enough credits for a minor in English. Take that, my passion for the written word, the fact that I wanted to be an author as a young person, and my many years of journaling and there may be another path to be taken. It’s at least worth some thought. I wonder if it can all work together somehow. No matter what I’m excited to find out what I’ll finally be when I grow up!