Do you remember being asked this question when you were a child? Do you remember asking this question of your own children? It comes along as children learn language with favorite color and food and others as we begin to form our identity as separate humans from our parents. We develop our own tastes and interests and passions which lead to our potential career choices. But for many of us, life takes turns between that question when we’re very young and now. So, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For a long time when I was growing up I wanted to be a doctor. Specifically, a pediatrician. I’m not sure where that thought came from. But that’s all I can remember ever wanting to be. And I, and my parents were very proud of that choice.
Until I realized an amazing fact. I loved ice skating when I was young. My best friend and I would go ice skating outside in winter at the pond in our hometown and at the ice rink down in Cincinnati other times of the year. You may or may not know that the machine that put down a new smooth coat of freezing water on an ice rink is a Zamboni truck. Well, one day at a Red’s baseball game there was a rain delay. They brought out a machine to suck up the water from the Astroturf and blow it over the outfield wall. Guess what that machine was? Yep. A Zamboni. I was thrilled. When I figured out I could work year round driving a Zamboni truck, I almost fell out of my chair. That became my new career obsession. Still is a little bit!
But the serious career aspiration of becoming a pediatrician stayed until college and my first semester when two things happened. My first chemistry class and my first psychology class. I hated chemistry and fell in love with psychology. Became a psychology major and never looked back. A semester or so later I took my first political science class and then every poli sci class I could make room for. Walked into college pre-med; walked out with a BA in psychology and a minor in political science.
Now I’m sure I’m not the only one with this kind of story. Part of the reason for college is discovery. Learning what you are passionate about and what you have a talent for. It’s part of the reason colleges don’t make you declare a major for the first two years. And I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there who are doing nothing even closely related to what you went to school for. That’s probably the second most common thing after having changed plans once we get to school.
So beyond a career or a college degree, what else did you want to be? Obviously we all wanted to be parents. But did you say when you were little, “I want to parent a RAD kiddo that’s going to test me every single day. A child that’s going to force me to put locks on my door and have a safe for all my valuables. Who I’m going to someday call the police on?” Was that what you wanted to be when you grew up? I imagine probably not.
You probably dreamed as we all do of your well-behaved children who would excel in sports and academics, grow up to respect you and other grown-ups, go to your alma mater and then take care of you in your old age. And wherever your dream veered off course, you may not have landed where you planned. But how has your life been enhanced by the challenges you’ve had to face? The people you have met along the way? The strength you’ve had to use that maybe you didn’t know you had?
I never planned to become a writer. I have always loved to write and it’s always been easy for me but I never saw it as a career. It took having a RAD kiddo to help me find this path and realize that writing was what I wanted to be when I grew up. There can be blessings that come from RAD that we don’t see in the moment but they show up in other places and times. My career has definitely been one of them.
Finding the good in the midst of bad is a great form of self-care. You may not have the idyllic dream you saw when you were young but there are happy moments and celebrations coming and still to come. Let that be your focus.
Until next time,