What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s the question. It’s ingrained into our (American) brains from elementary school. What’s your goal? Who do you want to be?

I don’t know why we ask these questions to eight-year-olds. Little me took a guess: art teacher. Why did I say that? I don’t know. I suppose it was because I liked art class at the time.

The question comes up again. And again. And Again. In middle school, I said pharmacist because I knew they made money. It didn’t matter that I didn’t like math or science as long as I could earn a six-figure salary.

In 10th grade, we had to do career research papers. I realized I was good at (and liked) writing, so I chose “English teacher.”

I stuck with that until halfway through college, when I realized there was no way I could imagine myself doing that for ten years, let alone the rest of my career.

Not knowing what else I could use my skills for, I switched to an English major. Then, the question changed slightly: “How will you make money using your degree?”

No suggestions. No research papers. Nothing. I remember feeling confused and alone at the time. My professors said, “You need to find something to do until you become a published author.”

How do you tell them you have no interest in being a published author or poet? And, even if you did, how do you know what to do as a career? What’s out there for writers?

I didn’t know what to do. I had no idea copywriting was an actual career until someone came knocking. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Full disclosure: I still don’t know the answer. It’s not pretty, and it’s not something most people share online when trying to curate their brand.

Never waffle. Never wonder. Know what you want and go get it. If you aren’t sure what you want, you must keep searching. Recruiters are watching. Employers are watching. They are judging you.

Unfortunately, these ideas are just part of the curated reality that exists for us on social platforms, which can make those who don’t fit in feel alone. I’m sharing this because I’m sure I’m not the only person with these feelings.

I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still don’t. Maybe there is no one answer, and we’re all pretending there is. There may be an answer for now and another for ten or fifteen years from now. For some of us, maybe the answer has nothing to do with job titles but more about our desired lifestyles and work preferences.

There is no right or wrong answer, though it feels like there is when you live in a society designed to make you “hustle” forever.

by Kristin Boyles

I'm a copywriter for the pet care, travel, and sustainability industries. Pennsylvania-based dog lover, Marvel fan, and Funko collector in my free time.