What do you want to be when you grow up?



I don’t know about you, friend, but I never figured out the answer to that question.

It makes me even wonder if this question has any validity.

As Americans, we change jobs a lot.

It’s been rumored that we often experience seven careers in a lifetime–but that’s just a wild rumor according to this article.

I started out, briefly, in adolescence, working at my dad’s drugstore as a clerk.  Followed by an internship as a reporter at a daily newspaper.  Succeeded by a stint working as a secretary for a psychologist (I wanted to BE the psychologist but, alas, that did not happen–so far–in this lifetime.)

My first job

My first job

The next job:  Personnel/Public Relations Assistant at a hospital.  Followed by:  Business Manager at the aforementioned hospital.  Followed by:  News Director at a Radio Station. (OK, this only happened for four months before we escaped from Texas.  Click on this link if you’ve forgotten that exciting story.)

Next job:  volunteering at a local food co-op in exchange for food on Thursday afternoon’s while raising babies.  Oh, and I shouldn’t forget volunteering as a teacher’s aide at our local school in the ’80’s.  I negotiated, six months pregnant and car-less, begging for a ride home from one of the teachers at noon.  They were delighted with the free labor.

When my babies started school

When my babies started school

Then came the “real” career.  I ran for office in our little township, attempting to be elected as township treasurer.  Defeated a fellow married to a local woman, heaven knows how. Maybe because folks knew me because of my husband’s weekly columns in our local newspaper.

Mostly chose this job because I a) loved numbers with a strange passion, b) loved the jigsaw puzzle way numbers fit together and c) loved staying at home with my babies.

When aforementioned babies started school a miracle occurred.  One of my friends quit her job as financial person for the tiny two-room school (where I once volunteered in exchange for rides home) and I was hired!

Somewhere under the rainbow...

Somewhere under the rainbow…

Now you may think that spending 30 years as township treasurer and 25 years as Business Manager at the school sounds like what one “wants to do when one grows up”.

I think not.

These are ways I earned money and matured out in the world.  But my “true” job has been growing up spiritually.  It pays, but in different ways than a bi-weekly paycheck.  It means more than a retirement income. (And I’m nowhere near ready to retire from this “job”.  I think it’s a lifetime endeavor!)

What did you want to be when you grew up?  And what do you feel has been your true life calling if different from how you earn your dollars?

Thanks to Dana at Zona Pellucida for inspiring this post!

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in September 2014 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to What do you want to be when you grow up?

  1. Robin says:

    We’re on similar thought waves again today (although I hid my thoughts at the bottom of my post about the summer of fruits and vegetables through a CSA). I am one of those people who has never known what she wants to be when she grows up. Well, maybe never is the wrong word as there was a very brief period (of about five minutes, tops) when I wanted to be a nun. Perhaps I already knew what my “true” job would be during those five minutes of wanting to be a nun. 😀

    I didn’t know Dana was posting again. I’m rushing over there now to see how she’s doing.

  2. totsymae1011 says:

    I wanna be whatever pays me especially well. I will say I hate when folk ask small kids that. They answer to satisfy and have not idea most times. Probably I could watch TV for a living would be the coolest job. Not that I watch a lot…well, I do, actually.

  3. lisaspiral says:

    It’s taken me awhile, but I’ve finally found my answer to that question. I want to be Happy with good stories to tell.

  4. Susan D says:

    Love hearing about all your different jobs in different places, with different people. And so agree with growing up spiritually as perhaps our most “important” job. Maybe that is the true retirement income. I’ve wanted to be everything from a landscaper to a bookstore owner to a traveling singer to a marine biologist … and more, as I’m sure is true of most. I’m hooked on your spiritual growing up, though. It just resonates. Thanks for this today, Kathy 🙂

  5. we have done some similar things–I worked at a radio station, for the newspaper I now work for on and off for 30 years, as a legal secretary (only because my father in law was a lawyer) and had a thousand different jobs while going to university–but I

  6. Holly Llama says:

    My first ambition was to be an underwater explorer like Jacques Cousteau, but that was my dream back before I knew how to swim! 😛 (still not a great swimmer to this day…) I think there was a famous graduation speech given some years back (I wanna say by Kurt Vonnegut), and he said something to the effect of “the most interesting 50-year-olds I know STILL don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.” There’s definitely some truth to that!

  7. jeffstroud says:

    Hey will Kathy I wanted to be a Movie Star, I wanted to be famous. You know that Leo/Water Dragon energy, Fire and water.
    The helping profession went into was being in service industry, yet you know a waiter, caterer, finally a dining room manager ! Than I walked away… Bam ! I took myself to college for Behavioral Health and Human Resources, I loved every second of it. Life happened and I never finished. Along the way other Healing Modalities came across my path. I am now in the process of creating and putting into place a Holistic Healing practice. I think you will have to come read my blog in the next few weeks, if you want to know more!

  8. Carol says:

    The first thing I remember I wanted to be was a stewardess – it seemed so glamorous back in the day – but then I grew too tall. Now I see that job more realistically, I think, and no, that’s not what I want to be. I ended up becoming a secretary in various capacities in various businesses, and the last 20 working years I was an escrow officer in an independent escrow company in Southern California, where not all escrows are done by title companies. And I was a loan processor for ahwile. I was active in a few women’s groups over the years, holding offices in some. I was (and am) a mom – that was the most frustrating and rewarding job I’ve had and have, except now it doesn’t require a lot of effort. I was a wife, therefore a housekeeper, cook, bookkeeper, seamstress, chauffer, gardener . . . the list goes on. My real what I want to be – me. Just me. For better or worse.

  9. Maria says:

    I distinctly remember telling my first grade teacher that I wanted to be an artist, to which she replied that I might want to think of something more practical. After that, I took a much stronger interest in science and now happily work as a scientist! I also used to write, write, write, filling up notebooks in middle school– it’s only in the past year that I’ve rediscovered writing.I still spend lots of time thinking about whether I could do something different (or more or better) to make a bigger positive impact, because that’s what really motivates me.

  10. john k says:

    God has blessed me in soooo many ways, I got what I wanted and my only wish is to do it all again so I could do a much better job, and pay more attention to my and other’s spiritual needs.

  11. I reckon I’m the odd one here since I’ve only worked at two places. Each time I worked as a RN and retired as a RN working at the same hospital for 35 years. That’s all I can remember ever wanting to be. I did a bit of pet photography on my days off and probably could have been successful at it but nursing paid lots more money. Nice post Kathy. Interesting to read about all your various jobs. But the best job for any of us with children was raising our kiddos..

  12. dorannrule says:

    You have an enviable resume and a colorful, productive career Kathy, even if it was all to earn a living. My own spotty career just “happened” too (mostly after child rearing). I figured I was meant for something more exciting than secretarial work so took courses in international travel training and became a travel agent for about a month. Yuk. Wound up as a membership coordinator and director of international tours for a trade association which combined secretarial work with travel.. Through it all I was writing – always doing promotional writing, and now still doing promotional writing free of charge. I think my true calling – what i really wanted and still want to be “when I grow up” is a promotional writer creating advertising copy, article marketing, social media marketing etc. etc. I am closer now than I ever was when paid, so who knows, my dreams may yet come true. Thanks for making me think about this again. 🙂 ~Dor

  13. me2013 says:

    I am in my 50’s and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. The life I lead now makes me very happy and contented, although some people would not consider it a job. 🙂

  14. Dawn says:

    As a kid I thought I wanted to be a marine biologist but didn’t like the math. As an adult I thought I’d like to be a psychologist, but didn’t want to go back to school for that many years. I’ve been in banking pretty much my whole life, mostly because I had a part time after school job at a bank when I was in high school…and it just stuck. At the moment I’m concentrating on retiring so I can figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

  15. sybil says:

    Since today is “Talk like a Pirate Day” … I went to an English to Pirate translation page for my response: “I think many o’ us just fall into jobs and retire still not knowin’ what we want t’ be.”

    I think the above response would sound better if preceded by a lusty, “Arrrr matey”.

    The list ? Receptionist, Insurance Clerk, Library Assistant, Teaching Assistant, Administrative Secretary …

  16. msmcword says:

    I am the same age as you but I still do not know what I want to be “when I grow up.” I had some paid jobs when I was younger but they did not work out for one reason or another. But I have done volunteer outreach projects, and I found that I really enjoy that kind of work. And I also love writing even if I never do it professionally.


  17. Lori D says:

    Thank you for sharing where you’ve come from in your life, Kathy. I enjoyed reading about it. I discovered my “true” job of growing up spiritually, when the job I thought I was going to have (being a mom) didn’t happen. I do know that when I was a kid, there were two things I wanted to be, and they never faded. Both of which, I was discouraged to do. Writer and/or social worker. I didn’t decide to combine my need to psychoanalyze and my love of writing until I turned forty. Now, I use psychology and human behavior to propel the stories I write. I’m not making money at it right now, but I’m happy doing it. My job before was pretty much customer service for several different companies.

  18. I agree that asking a kid what they want to “be” when they grow up is not necessarily the right question, Kathy. People have a gazillion “beingnesses” and can be them one after the other in a flash. I think most of us essentially want to be ourselves and able to do all kinds of things that we find interesting, adventurous or worthwhile. At least that is true for me. I do have a recurring theme on doing – I have always been a writer in one way or another.

  19. sonali says:

    Yes Kathy! You are so right. But, my first job is with Siemens and still the same after 7 yrs. I wouldn’t say I’m completely happy here but for now it serves me with what I need. *sigh* how I wish I had changed jobs like you in my early career. What a varied experience itseems. I never thought much abt wht I really really want to do; at least not this kind of a job for too long. Heaven! I adore people who look forward to changes. I’ve never changed my job so far though the thought has come several times but those were out of temporary frustrations.. Hmm…

  20. Kathy – Oh how fun to peek at the varied hats you’ve worn!

    I always wanted to be a world-renown magician, an international spy, or a mad scientist. My true calling, however, is to be a channel for grace (my definition of grace is the immediate presence of Spirit).

  21. Kathy says:

    A friend just posted this on Facebook:
    “It may be when we no
    longer know what to do,
    we have come to our real work,
    and that when we no longer know which way to go,
    we have begun our real journey.”
    Wendell Berry

    Interesting, don’t you think?

    • I love that quote! I also used it on my blog in December 2012, after the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school.

      I pictured myself as a wife and mother, cultivating an herb farm and researching family history. I wound up being a caregiver for 30 years, along with being a wife and mother and family historian.

  22. Kathy says:

    Thank you, I really enjoyed reading what everyone wanted (wants) to be when they grew (grow) up! And to hear some of the jobs which you’ve had along the way. It can be so interesting to read what paths others have followed. I appreciate every one of you that took the time to think about this and reply.

  23. Stacy says:

    Funny you should ask this question today, Kathy. I think – based on the growth I’ve experienced recently – that my real job has been to grow spiritually, too. It’s been a long haul, and I haven’t reached my destination yet, but I’m getting there. As you said, it pays in a different way than dollars and cents.

  24. I Wilkerson says:

    Glad I’m not the only middle aged person who still wonders about “when they grow up” 🙂

  25. lucindalines says:

    Great thought provoked as usual. I think I want to be me when I grow up.

  26. Janet says:

    I’m happy doing what I do now: volunteer work. I worked in Human Resources while my children were young but felt discontented and didn’t know why. Then it dawned on me that I needed to be home caring for my 4 little ones instead of sticking them in daycare. Once I quit working to be a stay-at-home mom, life became extremely fulfilling. I was so blessed to be able to do that.

  27. Heather says:

    The more I think about it, the more I realize that “following my feet” is my true calling. Sure, I have a job at which I earn an income. But my passions change, and I am happy to follow them.

  28. wisreader says:

    I’ve always wanted to be what I am: a night owl. I started early and I’ve made a career of it.
    But now – at this point in my life, which I guess could be called “later” – I really want to become a “Morning Person.” I want to spend the rest of my days on this particular wonderful planet rising and greeting the sun, and enjoying the freshness of the day.
    My efforts, so far, have met with utter failure. But I’m not giving up on this. Any tips? Any reformed night owls here?

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