What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Since my childhood, the age old question: « what do you want to be when you grow up? » is one that has always haunted me.

In elementary school, I had already learned that my family didn’t want me in art; I said teacher and lawyer.

Little me just wanted to make people happy

When I went into high school, everyone asked it even more: « what do you want to be when you grow up? » You have 4 years to make course choices to steer your life after high school so you need to know now. I said I’d take all the maths and sciences just in case.

In grade 10 we had an entire course centered on this. Careers class. « What do you want to be when you grow up? » I was 15 at the time.

« What do you want to do with the rest of your life? » They give you tests to see what you’d be good at and what you might like. They told you how to get there. They never said you could change your mind, they only asked: « what are you going to do with the rest of your life? »

I did their test. With my aptitudes, I could do most professions. With my interests, the top suggestions were caricaturist, illustrator, anatomical illustrator. I got home and showed my mum. She made me take the test again, her way. She liked those answers much more. They were jobs in psychology and chemistry with names I didn’t care to remember. « What are you going to do with your life? Because here’s what I want you to do. »

In grade 11, I said I’d go in chemistry, in grade 12, it was psychology and then international studies. I went into university and failed my first year. I liked investing myself in student life, but international society, critical thinking and history weren’t for me. I came back in my second year on probation and switched to sociology. Again I realised it wasn’t for me. I had 3 classes, drawing, cinéma québécois and sociology. I couldn’t care less about the last and I aced the first.

Where does that leave me now? I’m back at square 1, starting a whole new major again. This time I think it’ll stick. I want to be in an individualised studies program doing visual arts and communications.

People keep asking « what are you going to do when you grow up? » I’ve stopped caring. I look at them and answer honestly: I don’t know. I tried doing what made others happy and I failed. I tried doing something for me and it stopped being work and I succeeded.

People keep saying that all these changes are going to indebt me. In reality, doing things I didn’t love is what cost me so much. Not having the courage to say this is what I want is what cost me and I’m lucky enough that I can find a way to afford it.

My mother keeps saying to decide on a major and finish it or go to Québec, it’s too expensive to do what I do. I know, I’m the one paying for it as best I can. I’m taking her advice though, I’ll choose a major and get my degree. This time I’m doing what I want though. That’s always been my mistake. « What do you want to be when you grow up? » What do you want me to be.

It’s easy to forget that even if you make someone happy by doing what they want, you still have to deal with the consequences. No matter how much you love your parents, your family, your friends, you’re the one who has to live your life and you’ll be the one stuck miserable because you wanted to have someone else’s approval.

What are you going to be when you grow up?

I think it should be « What will you do to be happy for now? » People change and if you want to be a brain surgeon go ahead, but if later, you want to be a psychologist instead, no one can stop you from learning how to be one.

My friends always say « You do you » and really I think that’s advice everyone should follow. Everyone has an opinion on where you should go and everyone has their own path to follow, but it’s so much easier to follow your own.

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