June 10, 2015

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I'm Dear Evie & Felix,
You get asked this question a lot.

You'll hear it many more times in your life, and people will expect you to answer with the name of a job.

Before you do that, I want you to stop and think about the question. It's actually two questions mushed into one:

"What do you want to do?"
"Who do you want to be?"

They're similar, but different. They're both important, and they're both about more than a job.

What do you want to do? 

Some kids seem to be born with a career in mind. They're natural engineers who build suspension bridges out of Lego, or lifelong scientists who toddle after insects and request microscopes for their 4th birthday. 

I don't think you're those kids. I'm totally OK with that.

Felix, I like that you want to work at the bank with me. I'm not sure you realize that you don't get to keep all the money.

Evie, when you were in kindergarten, you wanted to be an astronaut teacher mom who goes to space on Monday and Tuesday, teaches on Wednesday and Thursday, and plays with her kids on Friday. You're like me; I could never be happy doing just one thing.

I have good news.

You don't have to do one thing. I work at a bank. I write a blog. I am a mom. I'm a trainer and a project manager and a conference speaker who used to be a journalist and a theater reviewer and a payroll tax specialist. Today, I met a cookbook author who used to be a nurse, and a software programmer who blogs about parenting.

You can do things out of order. You can do things all at once. You can do things to earn a paycheck and you can do things because you love them. Everything that you do matters, not just the things you're paid to do.

I ordered business cards for a conference and showed them to a friend (who's been following my blog for years). She said, "Wait, you're a writer?!"

Here's my answer:

Who do you want to be?

I like this question a lot more than "What do you want to be?" You are not a what; you're a who. Or maybe a whom.

If someone asks you this question, only answer with the name of a job if it's something you really love and care about. My dad, your grandpa, was a doctor through and through. It was his career, his passion, and his identity. If you find a job like that, I'll be incredibly happy for you.

But I'm not expecting it.

"Who do I want to be?" is a question worth asking yourself and answering many times. Your answers will change throughout your life. That's a good thing; it means you're growing.

You're all of these things now, Evie. I can't wait to see who you'll be and what you'll do in the future.



Sherry Wood said...

I loved this post, Monica!

It was profound and made me think of my life, my career, and who do I still want to be. It brought out some sad feelings and some feelings of hope. I think I still have not achieved what I want to do in life.

Thanks for sharing!

Hope you are having a good time.

Kelly Colbert said...

Thanks for making ok to be pathologically curious and relentlessly restless and good at a bunch of stuff.