I was recently observing a local elementary school, and a boy in the fourth grade asked me, "Ms. Chloe, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I laughed and said, "Well I don't know, what do you want to be?" He responded with, "I don't know, I'm only nine."
In my head I thought, "same and I'm 20." Why is there so much pressure to this question?
Sometimes I feel like I have my life all planned out because I'm a planner, I must have a to-do list or I stress. Well after being asked that question for the first time in a few years I started to panic. I literally stress myself out as a sophomore in undergrad not knowing whether or not I'll get into grad school. (who does that?!)
I always felt like I had to give well-known, socially-acceptable job answers. During my high school senior night I said I wanted to be an "Educational Psychologist," got to college, tested the waters and immediately switched. I was SO unhappy. I've known I wanted to teach for years now, yet still feel ashamed when I say that because teachers don't make a lot of money or that teaching is "easy." I feel like I have to justify my reasoning for wanting to teach. I pity the people who think teaching is "easy" and if you got in this field because it was "easy," please exit left.
Remember in elementary school when we all said we wanted to be Doctors or firefighters? haha, that was funny. (Unless you're really out there doing the thing, then kudos to you ;)) Or how about the classic, "Mom/wife" answer, I want to marry my prince charming by the age of 23 and have exactly three kids with two dogs all by the time I'm 30. hahahha
We had no worries in the world back then except to be home before the street lights came on. Oh for life to be simple again. I used to want to grow up so bad, and now I wish I could go back.
Now you're halfway through college, having to make adult decisions, really following through with the same question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" " What if the career path I'm on doesn't bring me joy, like I want it to? I constantly wonder, "What if I get in the elementary schools and am drained within six months of teaching?" Then what? Or "What if teaching wasn't my calling?"
I personally could never work 9-5 in an office and I couldn't be in an OR all day or running through burning buildings. I often wonder, what can I do that makes me happy, has flexible hours, gives me the freedom to be creative, and make enough money so I can travel frequently? Can I just travel the world and have an endless amount of money to do so? haha
Why is there so much pressure on college students to pick a major? I have several friends who absolutely hate their major, yet can't change now because it would put them behind. So what now? They are just going to find a job in a field they dislike?
I joined a women's business club for a whole semester and even went to Boston for a conference, and it turns out I hate business! I was actually miserable the entire time, but I never would have known that if I didn't go and put myself out there.
With so much pressure on this question, are we leaving kids with the idea that they have to choose the career pathway that looks the best, but doesn't make them truly happy? The career pathway that makes the most money? What's the deal with it? To just find a job that is good enough and will pay the bills?
Why can't we ask kids, "What makes you happy?" "What would you want to do for hours everyday?" "What makes you laugh?"
Being halfway through my Sophomore year, I tend to reflect a lot. "What kind of person do I want to be?" "How can I improve the world?" "How can I be the positive light that my future students will need?" "What do I really want from life?" "What really makes me TICK?"
I think what I need to do is put myself first, keeping adding positive people in my life, remember not to base my worth on someone else, and don't let other people decide my choices for me.
So, If you're like me, 20 years old, having a "mid-life crisis" (I'm an exaggerator). I promise (I think) it'll be okay.
*REMINDER* It's okay you can't figure out the whole future, life is uncertain... go with it!!!