Growing up it has always been definitive that you must know what you want to do when you become an adult. Our parents would always ask us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Being a child, many of us didn’t know the answer to that question. A few of us might, but the majority of us were clueless. But if I have to be truthful, I knew what I wanted to be in my childhood. I always wanted to be a Pokémon master because I wanted to be the very best!
Yes, I know that being a Pokémon master is just a child’s dream. It is neither a profession nor a career choice. It may seem fun in the beginning because it fulfills my childhood imaginations and fantasies. But, I have long lost interest in Pokémon. Even if this dream of mine was fulfilled, I would have abandoned it long ago.
This is why the question of what you want to be when you grow up never made any sense to me. This question is mostly geared towards children. And most children don’t have the necessary knowledge or experience to answer it. They are in the exploratory and initial learning phase of life. There’s no need to introduce future variables that they know nothing about at the moment.
Misconceptions of What You Want to Be
The number one way that people go about asking children what they want to be when they grow up is by introducing example professions. “Do you want to be a doctor, lawyer, policeman, engineer, or etc?” We ask this question all the time. I find this question to be nonsensical.
How do you know what you want to be if you never were? If you were never a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, or an engineer, how would you know if you want to be any of them? For a child, he can infer what he wants by looking at his surroundings. For example, if his parents and many of his relatives were all teachers, perhaps he would be inclined to follow in their footsteps.
But the truth remains: everything that a person wants to be is speculative. It changes all the time based upon new knowledge and experience.
There’s no concrete answer to the question. If you knew the answer, there wouldn’t be any problem because you have a direction to follow in life.
For most people, including me, we don’t have the answers. Any time someone ask me what I want to be, I always say I don’t know. If they also ask me about my passion, I would tell them that I don’t have any particular passion.
It’s not that I don’t have any passions. I am passionate about so many things. There’s so much that you can do in life. I find it difficult answering the question of what I want to be. What you can be has infinite possibilities. If you want to explore the geography of life, there are near infinite numbers of professions you could be. Some of which that doesn’t even exist right now!
Because I tried to be so many things, I ended up being nothing. From an outside view, I can be labeled as a dabbler, or a noncommittal person. But the truth is I just love to explore. And through my explorations, I realized that there is nothing particular that I want to be. I can be anything.
Context Before the Content
There is no such thing as the right or wrong path to life. No matter what direction you choose to go or what professions you choose to be understand that it is your choice.
Some choices lead us toward unfamiliar terrains. And these terrains have their own sets of problems to overcome. But essentially you are free to choose anywhere you want to go. Especially nowadays, we have so much more options than a hundred years ago.
Don’t worry so much about finding the right path to life. Don’t worry about doing the right thing. You can be anything you want. And if you consciously involve yourself in your activities, and put forth all your efforts, then whatever you do can become a great thing.
Your path may not be the right path, but at the very least it is your choice. Enjoy it. This is how you want to look at your professions.
It doesn’t matter what you are doing in this world. It doesn’t matter what you want to be. Essentially, all the things you can be are defined within the areas of human need. Where there is a need, there is something you can offer. There is something you can be.
So the question of what you want to be when you grow up is redundant. Sure, it is there to guide you down a certain path in life. You can use it to narrow down on the endless options that are already there. In the end, if you use it or not, you will still have to explore.
Before you worry so much about the titles of what you could be. Know that all of them are human constructs. What is a police officer, an engineer, or a doctor? Essentially, it is a title given for the specific actions you do.
The content of what you do doesn’t define who you are. And it doesn’t matter what you do, your quality of life doesn’t change. The most important thing is the context or how you do it.
Anything you do can become a great thing if you focus all your attention on building your competence. Be good at what you do. Put forth all your effort and work joyfully. Involve yourself.
If I have to be honest, if you learn how to enjoy life, then all paths are viable. You can be anything because you’ll simply learn to love everything.
So whatever you are doing right now, try to see if you can learn to love it. Try to see if you can make it into a wonderful medium for creative self expression. This is a challenge I present to you.