The question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” used to be asked by adults as a bad ice-breaker, but now I’m at the age when it’s turning into (if it hasn’t already) a question that they’re actually expecting an answer from. At this point, how I respond to that question usually depends on how much I like the person and how I think the person will respond.
It’s like when Doctor Strange in Infinity War looked into the future and said they win in exactly one scenario. There’s only one positive outcome from this question that I can see happening out of all the millions of possibilities. I know that I’m just speculating while he actually saw the future, but me not speculating would mean this post wouldn’t exist.
Things could go wrong in a variety of ways. This might have something to do with me being an A(merican)B(orn)C(hinese) and the environment I’ve grown up in (actually, that is exactly the basis of this entire post), but when I’m around Asian parents, it sometimes feels like there’s a limited number of acceptable answers to that question- doctor, engineer, lawyer, and accountant (or anything finance related) being the ones that come to mind first. Aka stable, reachable, and well-paying jobs that everybody has heard of.
When you’re little, there’s all the classic answers to the what do you want to be question. For me, that would include firefighter, teacher, professional sports player, president, astronaut, vet. It’s weird to think that if I answered any of those jobs now, they would all fall into one of the following categories that I’ve created: That doesn’t pay well.
That’s too hard.
That doesn’t pay well and that’s too hard.
That’s barely a job.
Are you crazy?
That’s a job? I’ve never heard of it before.
(Sidenote: the writers of this interesting post actually asked 500 kids what they wanted to be and then broke down the statistics. The ending is amazing. Also, I cannot believe one kid answered “hedge fund manager.” The first time I even heard about hedge funds was last year, and I still am fuzzy about them.)
The lines can get blurry between these classifications, but here are some examples for each.
That doesn’t pay well. Teacher, historian, archaelogist.
That’s too hard (as in there’s a very limited amount of spots for these jobs). Athlete, senator, talk show host.
That doesn’t pay well and that’s too hard. The arts and ministry.
That’s barely a job. All the jobs that need to be done but very few people (if any) actually want to do.
Are you crazy? Soldier.
That’s a job? Hand model.
Then there’s the possibility of me saying one of the answers that is inside the box, but it wouldn’t be true. And them reacting with an approving nod to whatever I fabricate is possibly wrose than them looking at me strangely. Another thing is the that there would be pretty good chance that parent would tell other parents. Because the mom grapevine is very much a thing.
What would be the parallel of the the one good scenario Doctor Strange saw in this scenario? “Oh, that’s cool” & a genuine exclamation mark.
I believe that everybody was given different and specific interests and abilites for a reason. I believe that these were given to each of us by God. And to ignore or avoid them because of money or because of how normal/abnormal it is is to ignore and avoid what we were made to do.
This reminds me of a passage in the book, Present Over Perfect.
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great thing beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth,” and to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour.” Job 37:5-6
I love the freedom and grace that flood through me when I read this passage from Job.
God says to the snow, “Fall on the earth.” That’s it. Just do one thing. Just fall. And then he sasy to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour.” Essentially, he’s saying: just do the thing I’ve created you to do. You’re rain: so rain. You’re snow: so snow.
I love the simplicity of that, the tremendous weight that takes off my shoulders. God’s asking me to be the thing he’s already created me to be. And he’s asking you to be the thing he’s already created you to be.
He doesn’t tell the snow to thaw and become rain, or the rain to freeze itself into snow. He says, essentially: do your thing. Do the thing that you love to do, that you’ve been created to do…
…The snow is only meant, created, commanded to fall. The rain is only meant, created, commanded to fall down. You were only meant created, commanded to be who you are, weird and wonderful, imperfect and messy and lovely.
Maybe another question to ask is not what we want to do or if we know what we want to do, but if we know what we are created to do. Maybe we will know we are right when the answers to both questions become one and the same.
What did you want to be when you were younger, and has that changed or stayed the same? When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher for a while. In pre-K, I wanted to be a pre-K teacher, but that changed when I went to kindergarten, and then again in first grade. But then after second grade, being a second grade teacher was my answer for the next few years. Not because I loved her that much, but because my second grade teacher is the only teacher in school that I’ve decidedly disliked. As a disgruntled second grader, I wanted to make sure that future second graders had better experiences that I did.
Do you feel restrained in job choices by how adults around you feel?
How do you respond to the question, what do you want to be?