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"What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?" Are We Asking the Right Questions?

Updated on August 7, 2019
rebekahELLE profile image

Rebekah is an early childhood educator with sixteen years experience in the field. She enjoys educating others about working with children.

Growth Brings New Life

We grow up to be who we are from within.
We grow up to be who we are from within. | Source

We have all been asked or asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And we’ve heard all of the typical responses of doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher, with a few modifications for the 21st century. After living as an adult for a while, I now wonder, are we asking the right questions? If we want to assume and assure personal responsibility, does it matter what we want to be or what we do in our careers and work lives?

Have you ever heard any child respond, “ I want to grow up to be responsible and compassionate and giving." (Some have, including Logan LaPlante. See video below.) Are we programming our children to expect fulfillment and satisfaction from this mindset of growing up to be in a specific ‘profession’ or following in the family business? As an adult, do you find fulfillment and success in who you are as an human being, or do you associate your happiness, etc. with how you identify yourself. “Hi, I’m so and so, and I’m a doctor”, or “Hello, I’m just so and I’m a business owner.”

Happiness

Leave footprints in your daily life.
Leave footprints in your daily life. | Source

What Are The Right Questions?

I recently read an article about important questions we should ask ourselves. A few of them jumped out at me as being more essential than the traditional, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ question. Perhaps the reason many cannot find personal fulfillment and happiness is because they have not asked the right questions.

Instead of focusing on how can I be successful and what job will offer me the most money (which is how many people determine what they want to be when they grow up), why not ask questions like, How would I like the world to be a different place because I live in it? Or, how do I want to to be a different person because I live in this world? Let’s take a look at the possibilities of how answering these questions may give us clearer focus on what is essential in our lives.

How Would I Like The World To Be A Different Place Because I Live In It?

How would I like the world to be a different place because I live in it? That’s rather a profound and powerful question. It requires us to think about what we value, our talents and skills, how we see our world, how we interact with others, how we respond to news and events that take place in our communities and around the world. It gives us reason to go inside of ourselves and discover who we are, what can we give, what is important for us to accomplish.

Maybe it gives incentive to pursue a certain profession or study in a specific field. It could open doors for us to take a look at something we may not have thought of before like volunteering or the Peace Corps. When we think about life in context of how can I make the world a different place, rather than what is life going to give me, it changes how we think about ourselves and takes less emphasis off of what our title may or may not be.

Are You Passionately Curious?

Source

There are some who will respond by saying, it’s a worthless pursuit. What difference can one person make in this crazy world. To those people, I will reply with a rather obvious answer. Every idea or invention began in the mind and heart of one individual. What that one individual does with that idea or creative spark makes the difference. Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious”. Are you passionately curious enough to make a difference? Does it matter if it affects millions or only a few, or even one? It matters to those it affects, even just one.

Life is messy and beautiful. It’s full of so much. I am passionately curious. I want to experience as much as I can. I want to make a difference and expect to make a difference. I want the world to amaze me and disgust me. I am different because I live in this world. The world is different because I live here. We all make a difference. The world is both our canvas and sometimes it’s the brush. We paint, and sometimes we are the painting. Enjoy the magnificence of your life journey.

— rebekahELLE

John Howe Found His Passion As a Child

John Howe, a famous illustrator most notably known for his work with Peter Jackson’s award winning movies, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and The Hobbit, (both based on the books by JRR Tolkien) naturally evolved into his career. He notes that from a young child he always drew. Following his passion and interest for medieval time periods, fantasy and working with light and pencil, he has been able to make the world of hobbits and middle earth come alive for generations to come. In this shortened version of the documentary, John Howe There and Back Again, the narrator says so eloquently, “Through his craft, he helps us explore the limits of our own environment, making the margins between these real and dreamt universes as thin as a piece of paper.” The following seventeen minutes are worth watching and listening to for an understanding of how we can become who we naturally are within.

There and Back Again

Each New Morning Brings Opportunity

We can be different people from experiencing life with new perspective and expecting to learn something from everyone we encounter in our daily lives. Have you ever been somewhere and saw a person or witnessed an event which left you with a lasting memory? I’m sure most of us have.

How we respond or react to these life changing moments can help to make us a different person. Sometimes it helps to keep a journal and write down thoughts and feelings about life experiences.

I know for myself, it helps to clarify and put things in perspective, whatever the emotion may be.

"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?" Henry David Thoreau

How Can I Be A Different Person Because I Live In This World?

The next question we may ask ourselves is; “How can I be a different person because I live in this world”? What experiences do we want and need to enrich our lives? Let’s face it, the world affects us. Will we design our lives or live by accident? Many people never experience anything different because they don’t think about how new experiences can broaden and often enhance their lives. Fear may paralyze them from moving forward, stepping over the line, living outside of the proverbial box.

Prejudices keep some away from understanding different life situations and cultural upbringings. We may live our lives thinking a certain way about a country or a group of people never experiencing the common thread of humanity which runs through our veins.

Logan LaPlante at TEDx University Wants to be Happy and Healthy When He Grows Up

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