What do you want to be when you grow up?

The question we are all asked as 5 year olds, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Maybe they ask us because “it’s cute.” Maybe they have all the best intentions in the world, but is there something more going on here?

We might say:

  • “The President of America”
  • “A Princess”
  • “An Astronaut”
  • “A Professional Athlete”
  • “A Movie Star”
  • “A Star on Broadway”
  • “A Police Man”
  • “A Firefighter”
  • “A Doctor”

We might even answer the question with whatever our “daddy does,” or that we want to be “a mommy.”

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Then in High School we take ‘The Test’. You know, the one that tells us the 10 jobs most suited toward our personalities. We look at the list and weigh our options. We pick the job with the highest success. The highest paycheck. We say, “That is what I’m going to be.”

We start to tell everyone around us, “Look how successful I’m going to be!” We talk about our 10 year plan and try to figure out where to start. Of course the only answer Seniors in High School hear is, “Go to college.”

So we follow their quickly given advice and go to college. Once there, most of us realize we don’t enjoy the career path we’re on whatsoever. So we begin to panic. “What am I going to do with my life?” We start talking to relatives about our fears and some encourage us, while others shame us. “You just need to push through.” Some people in our lives already made our future job our identity, and if we don’t become that–we are a failure.

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At this point we have a choice. To continue, miserably, down the career path a computer picked for us, OR find a new one.

Those of us who stay with the computer pick may get praise from relatives. A great paycheck, and possibly it will all work out. For the rest of us who choose the road less traveled (which is actually more traveled than we expect) may find ourselves fighting to prove our worth to people who once seemed to have so much pride in our career choice.

Why is it so hard to be who we want to be?

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We are afraid of disappointing.  “I’m a failure” runs through our head like a bad song on repeat.

But the truth is, we are not defined by our job title. Our job is something we do–not who we are.

We are the same person no matter which career we choose, the only difference will be the joy we find while doing it.

To the High School student: The career test you take is really fun! Enjoy it. Look at the career choices and laugh with your friends as you dream about each option. Be careful not find your identity in your future career. Your options might be as endless as they will ever be right now, so take advantage of that. No matter the job you choose, you will always be you. Dream big! Go for it!

IMG_0680To the College student: Maybe you’ve found yourself questioning your major. That’s okay! You are not a failure. Please repeat that to yourself over and over again. The best thing you can do right now is to take some time exploring. You have an opportunity to take classes in different majors. Or maybe the path you find yourself wanting to go down doesn’t involve college at all. Talk to a career advisor. Talk to friends. Talk to relatives. If any of them shame you for wanting to go down a path with a lower income, that is their problem. Money will not buy you happiness. A nonprofit worker is worth the same as a doctor–even more if you find happiness there. Just watch as your relatives put aside their pride as they see you blossom into whichever career you choose. Please do not let the fear of disappointing stop you from doing what you really want. You are going to make a difference!

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I would love to hear your stories! Students, where are you at right now in the career journey? For those of you who found a job that brought you happiness, what is your best advice? Or maybe there is something you would have done differently? Please share! We can all learn so much from each other.

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

  1. humblygrowing says:

    I get so excited when my email says, you have made a new post! I love this so much! I actually took a year off after I got all my general studies done in college because I had no idea what I wanted to major in! I literally figured it for 100% assuredness a month before I would have had to move out from my mom’s and get a job! God works in His timing and if we are patient… It’s a beautiful thing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lightthelie says:

      Laura, you encourage me so much! Thank you for such sweet words. That is so good you took the time to figure out what you wanted to study instead of forcing yourself into something that God didn’t have planned for you. Isn’t His timing amazing? I don’t understand why I ever question Him. He always has a better plan than I do 🙂 So happy to hear you got your answer!!!

      Like

  2. A Teenage Poet says:

    I think since I was little I’ve subconsciously wanted to be a writer. But then I figured out I’m no good at coming up with stories – not because anyone told me that, it’s just something I discovered for myself. So I looked at law, and I looked at biology/medical, and I almost went to a biomedical academy for my sophomore year of high school (last year). But that would have meant I would have had to leave yearbook…and for some strange reason I love that stressful, insane class. And after I made the decision to stay and be copy editor, I realised something. This could be a career! I could start as a journalist, and I wouldn’t have to make up stories – I’d just have to take what other people said or what was happening and craft it into something readable. And then I could become an editor, later, which is my true goal. As a junior in high school, I’m thrilled to have a career choice that I love and that is achievable. With my grades and test scores, I could go to a major science or engineering university, but that’s not what I want.
    I want to write.
    Sorry that was really long…. fabulous article, by the way. You made some really good points.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lightthelie says:

      Please don’t ever be sorry! I LOVE the long thoughtful comments. I’m so happy to hear your story. From reading your blog, I can tell that you would be an absolutely wonderful journalist or editor–whatever you choose! Sending you a virtual *high five* for sticking to something you love to do and not heading off to the biomedical academy just because you could. I think so many people end up in careers just because they can and not because they want to. I support you 100% and I look forward to seeing your articles someday 🙂 I hope you will continue blogging so that we can enjoy following you in your journey! Thank you 🙂 I really have never saw myself as a writer, but I love to encourage… so I’m just doing the best I can-and loving it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • A Teenage Poet says:

        Your comment gave me a huge smile. It’s nice to have people believe in you.
        And even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, you definitely are one, of sorts. You put things very nicely and are very inspirational 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • lightthelie says:

        It is so nice when people believe in you! Those are my favorite kind 🙂 Your teachers sound seriously amazing. Treasure them. Thank you for your encouragement! Like you said, it’s so good to have people believe in you ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lori says:

    I changed my degree (in my head at least) so many times….sociology, accounting, then finally history (to be a teacher.) And guess what? I never even used my degree….officially at least. 😉 God had other plans for me. 🙂 So true that we are not defined by our jobs! We are not defined by our success or failure. We aren’t defined by how we look. Where we get our identity has a profound effect on our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lightthelie says:

      You nailed that Lori! I loved reading your story because it is SO similar to mine. I also never used my degree either (yet) ;). Our identity can certainly bring life to us or death-depending on where we find it. That is the true struggle in finding our value and worth. A reason it is so important to be reminding the people in our lives where they get their worth.. because we all forget too easily! (Me all the time!!!)

      Like

  4. Julia Putzke says:

    Just watch as your relatives put aside their pride as they see you blossom into whichever career you choose. Please do not let the fear of disappointing stop you from doing what you really want. You are going to make a difference!

    This explains why I left school after a year and a half. There was other issues too, but I freaked out when relatives told me I needed to pick a different major other than English with creative writing because it wasn’t going to make any money. (Makes my heart heavy remembering). I wasn’t even doing it for the love either. After I left, I still wrote a ton. But I was still confused. Then, the tenth of this month, I published my first (short) book of poetry. It’s been the most terrifying/exciting thing I’ve ever done. And honestly, I’m still kind of scared because I don’t know what God’s going to do with it, but it’s for my good I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lightthelie says:

      Julia, thank you sooo much for sharing your story! It makes me sad when family tries to “help” but their “help” is really so much more destructive than helpful. :/ You are a beautiful writer and I’m SO happy to hear you published your first book! WOW! What an accomplishment! Listening to God is scary, especially when we cannot see why He has us doing something. Your heart posture is pure beauty the way you listen to Him and then give it over to Him to do with it however He chooses. That right there is inspiration. I know you have one happy Father looking down on you. Keep on writing! I always love reading your posts. ❤ Praying for you this morning my sweet blogger friend!

      Like

      • Julia Putzke says:

        The hardest thing for me right now is feeling like I’m pushing this book on people, but I really want them to read it. Then I feel like I need to wait on God some more to see what He does. I think because things aren’t working out right this second, I’m nervous. But there’s already been such wonderful feedback since I’ve let people know about it. Sorry, my heart has been everywhere the last week and some. Thank you so much for the encouragement and prayer. ❤ you are lovely.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lightthelie says:

        I think the best thing you can do is let others know that the book is there and is they read it great and if they don’t that’s okay too! Is it available online? God will use it as He will, and I’m sure He’s also working on your heart through this process as well. Who knows, maybe it will be the next book, or the one after that, or the one after that to really take off 🙂

        Like

      • Julia Putzke says:

        That’s true. 🙂 it’s all very overwhelming. It’s available on Lulu. I can tell He’s working on my heart.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. beingeternal says:

    Emily, you are doing an amazing job by encouraging people to just be themselves. I love this quality in you. This is so true that people want you to fit in a frame which they have created for you no matter whether you are willing or not, to fit in.And we fear disappointing them because we are habituated to long years of people pleasing. Honestly, it is our life and taking care of our priorities and becoming what we wish to make out of ourselves is our utmost responsibility. WE are not a failure if we do not become their decision or dream BUT it is a biggest failure if we do not become what we are meant for. We are meant to be ourselves- the original.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lightthelie says:

      Reva, every time I see I have a comment from you-I get really excited because I know it’s going to be some amazing, encouraging comment I do not deserve, but you so freely give! I am humbled by the comments I receive from you, one of the most amazing writers I have read! Thank you for being the type of person who encourages others to be themselves, always. The original! The one and only ❤

      Like

  6. My best advice is: don’t fret! Why do we stress about getting it right, first time, every time? There are so many ways to skin a banana.

    For many reasons – necessity, recession, opportunity – I had done several completely different jobs in my life. But I always found ways to enjoy even the most mundane job. AND I learnt something from each job which I took with me. Nothing is ever wasted.
    Then one day my dream job hired me and valued me particularly because of my breadth of experience. The position required exactly the combination of skills and experience I had wrongly thought was mismatched. I realised that the common thread that ran through all the jobs was me and what I cared about, and they had lead me to a new career. I just didn’t realise at the time what was unfolding.
    So don’t stretch, push and strain. *Live* each step and trust in the path. with cheerios, CC

    Liked by 1 person

    • lightthelie says:

      Thank you so much CC! That is such great advice and sometimes great advice is the hardest to take. Exactly why it is important to be encouraging one another daily.

      Thank you for sharing your story. How encouraging it is to see it all work out perfectly. Congratulations on your dream job! “I realized that the common thread that ran through all the jobs was me and what I cared about, and they had lead me to a new career.” Everyone needs to read that line. The person is the most valuable part. You have put it into words beautifully, CC. Every day we are given new opportunities to live and gain! Each adding to our bucket of experience. Even in the pain, we are able to gain. Thanks again for sharing your story, and I love your sign off… cheerios are always in our house! 🙂 – Emily

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Bettina says:

    I changed majors as well in college, I ended up studying Culinary Arts and at the end I did not like the job opportunities. I do not know if I’ll ever find what I am good at or what I like to do, but for now I know that, as you mentioned, we are not defined by our careers, jobs, or experience. Thank you for the article, loved it.

    Like

    • lightthelie says:

      The beauty is that when we do not define ourselves by what we do, we are allowed to find joy in whatever it is that we are doing 🙂 and hopefully along the way we will find a job that really inspires us! Thank you for sharing Bettina! I appreciate you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bettina says:

        Thank you for the words, I completely agree with you, we have to make the best with what we’ve got and hope for the inspiration in our every day life. Thank you again!!

        Like

  8. Natalie Brenner says:

    Amen! You know my story to the T, sister, so I don’t need to share much here. Basically, you sang one of the songs of my heart. Love.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Natalie Brenner says:

    Ps!
    I currently have 3 or 4? job.
    Doula. Photographer. Etsy. MINISTRY! Love them all. Never in my life did I dream this would be true. 5 years ago I went to corvallis, OSU, planning to become an rn. Had I followed through, I would currently be making somewhere from 60-80k a year. But Jesus himself intervened. Now I am pursuing things I LOVE and enjoying them all! It’s a blast and I may not be worth something in human eyes, but my identity lies in Jesus. And I have all I need.
    Love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lightthelie says:

      You really are so amazing and inspiring. It’s true that money isn’t everything. $60,000 isn’t worth it, if you’re miserable! I couldn’t imagine if I had gone down a career path and missed out on my little cutie patootie ❤ Way to be a great example to all those around you. You shine so bright onto others and are one of the most encouraging people out there (I'm sure of it 🙂 ) I pray that you will always follow the plans He has set for you and not the plans the world has set. ❤

      Like

  10. Oh yes, I was that girl who said “I want to be a princess when I grow up!” when I was 5 haha 🙂 I’m in college now, my degree was first pre-med. I did because I really love to help people. But then the course work got really challenging 😦 So I switched to Health Education because I love to teach. But I have been working as a teaching assistant for two years and it’s been a struggle. So now, I’m taking a few pre-med requirements during my vacations to see if I can catch up and be a doctor one day. Every day is a struggle, but I know in the end- I’ll end up EXACTLY where I am supposed to be 🙂 Much love for this article ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • lightthelie says:

      Hehe, I wanted to be the princess too 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story! Sometimes we have to take a couple steps back in order to see the bigger picture. Maybe the future will begin to be clearer and more exciting! Way to not be afraid of making a change. What kind of doctor are you on the path to becoming? Both of those careers show your love for people. What an amazing quality to have! I hope you will never loose that, because it is so beautiful!

      Like

  11. Kate says:

    Thanks for writing this great article! I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog! I wanted to be a famous singer when I was a child! I ended up doing a chemistry degree which made me ill. After 3 years of being housebound with ME/CFS I started a meaningless office job. Fortunately I met a friend who said I was stuck in a rut and asked me what I wanted to do with my life? I said I wanted to be a nutritionist as nutrition helped me to get well, so I looked online for courses and enrolled in a nutritional therapy course! I’m so much happier now! I’m following my passion of using diet to improve health. I spend my free time cooking new recipes and blogging on http://www.cookingtohealme.com and it is really energising to be doing a course I love! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lightthelie says:

      Thank you so much Kate, it is my pleasure to write! I’m so sorry you fell ill while studying 😦 I had to look up ME/CFS as I had never heard about it before! How are things going? Are you feeling better now? I’m so happy to hear you didn’t settle for that office job and followed your passion! So many people are afraid to do what you have done, so I tip my hat to you, miss! I’m really excited to check out your blog.. especially since I LOVE food.. but still get scared when cooking new meals. I hate messing up a good dinner! Thanks again for sharing your story, it is very encouraging ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m still figuring out what I am! I’m not sure I’ll ever find out either!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Andy Oldham says:

    While I never changed my major in college, I don’t use any of it as a profession but I do as a writer. This is a most encouraging post you have given and I love it. Way to encourage others. Are those your kids in the photos. They are beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lightthelie says:

      Thank you for your encouraging comment, Andy! College (and school in general) can teach us a lot… even if it is not the lesson we signed up for. I’m glad to hear you are now able to use some of those tools in your writing now. They definitely paid off because you are a wonderful writer! And yes, that is my daughter 🙂 I will have to agree with you-thank you so much!

      Like

  14. Pingback: Letters To My Girls

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