What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? The Childhood Question That Misguided Us All Along

We shouldn't settle pursuing the one thing we can live with, but chase the one we can't live without. Every gift you've got has its purpose so remember that when people limitations and fears spill out and fill you with doubt.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.


"What do you want to be when you grow up?" she asked while staring at me with big hopes in her eyes. I felt obligatory pressure mixed with a true sense of anticipation. I didn't want to disappoint the woman who gave me life and really, gave up most of her dreams, just so I would have a better go at life than she had.

The concept of "what do you want to BE when you grow up?" can be overwhelming and puts an enormous amount of pressure on you to "find yourself." It's easier for most to state what they love doing, rather than what they'd like to do for a living. As if those two should be different.

Ideally, choosing a profession shouldn't be determined by the "one size fits all" pre-selected, currently available career paths assigned to us by the homogeneous social police who will outline your future based on society's measures of success such as salary, status, class, people's expectations, perception, or simply the evolutionary survival need to play it "safe".

More often than not, that process will leave you feeling suffocated, emotionally robbed, wanting for more, as well as unfulfilled. Before you know it, you'll live longing for the moment when you can take a "break", a vacation so that you can finally "breathe."

I have always believed that we were all born with a gift (sometimes many) that was planted inside of us and rooted into our true calling.

It's evident to me when I watch my little girls how clearly they know what they love, what makes them most excited, what tickles their little hearts, from their favorite game to how they'd like to spend their time. I'm certain that at some point, we also knew what we loved, what made us so, so excited and tickled our little hearts.

How did we turn from playing dress up in colorful, don't make "sense" choices of outfits, to the conventional black uniform most days? From having a crazy tantrum on the floor, fighting for an extra minute to play what we so knew we wanted, to joining the ordinary army conducted by Miss Routine.

As grateful as I am that most of us graduated from the terrible two's tantrums on the floor, I do wish we hadn't grown out of the rest of our authentic selves and with that, peeled off every layer of youthful passion and aspiration we once dreamed of and wanted to pursue.

For some reason, at some point in time, our heart has been demoted from the decision-making role it once so flawlessly conducted with certainty to one of many advisors who might get to pitch a little idea every now and then. It seems as though, more often than not, our uniquely shaped dreams leak through the little holes of the socially accepted pipe line, which we all travel through to reach the "What do you want to be when you grow up?" ultimate destination.

Have we been mislead all along, by being asked the wrong question? "What do you want to be when you grow up?" As if, at the present moment, we aren't "being" enough and there is a virtual "ON" button that needs to be pressed in order for our "real" life to begin? I believe the question shouldn't be: "What do you want to be?" but "HOW do you want to be it?"

Some might have a clear title and direction they'd like to pursue; therefore, the path might be more predictable to follow.

However, not being able to label your passion doesn't mean it's not there. Perhaps your passion doesn't have the job title you thought you wanted or it might not be what is expected of you. It might not sound "luxurious" enough, maybe you won't get a noble prize or save the world with it, or you simply can't see how you can make a living from it. Those reasons alone will plant the seeds of doubt that slowly but surely will grow to shadow your dreams.

Finding your calling is just like dating when you think about it. Some fall in love at first sight; once they see it, they instantly know. For some, it takes many tries at completely different things and learning what they don't like, leads them to realize what do. Some prematurely judge the book by its cover and might miss out on many stories that will never be told, while some give things a chance even when it's not what they thought they wanted and get what they needed after all. It might be intimidating at first when everything is new and unknown, but you should never stop searching, stay open minded and trust that when you'll find it, you'll know.

This isn't about how to raise our children but rather how to raise the child within us by growing out of our adopted persona and rediscovering what's always been there.

We shouldn't settle pursuing the one thing we can live with, but chase the one we can't live without. Every gift you've got has its purpose so remember that when people limitations and fears spill out and fill you with doubt.

I'm not suggesting that you'll quit your day job just yet, but please don't forget to daydream too. Make the time to follow your trade; after all, if you won't be chasing yours, you'll forever be singing someone else's tune.

When it's time, unwrap the gifts you've received and share it with the world. You might want to give back the ones you have mistakenly borrowed. Because finding your calling will be one of the most valuable things you can find. Pursuing it, though, is priceless.

Previously published on:
Follow Inbal Gould on: Facebook: