So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

If you are at a family gathering that includes young children over the holidays, chances are you will hear an adult ask a child, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Interestingly, when adults ask that question they are really asking, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” or more specifically, “What occupation are you going to have?”  This is based on the notion that it is what we do, not who we are, that defines us.

Kids will oblige by answering the question with teacher, policeman, baseball player, zookeeper, dancer, etc.  But if you pay close attention, you will realize that they are in fact answering the stated question.  They are saying what they want to do, but it reveals what they want to be.  I want to be daring.  I want to be important.  I want to be influential.  I want to be interesting.  I want to be loving and caring.  I want to be loved.

I want to be who I am!

When I was a kid there was a time I told people I wanted to be an ice cream salesman when I grew up.  Reflecting back I realize that I was actually saying I wanted to be like Arne, the nice man that delivered ice cream to our home once a month.  Ironically I became an ice cream salesman when I ‘grew up.’  It was the shortest career I ever had, I lasted one day.

Take a moment and ask yourself the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  Go ahead and answer it with an occupation or an activity.  If you could do anything you wanted, what would it be?  Once you have decided what you would like to do, ponder what this means.  What does it say about you?  What does what you want to do tell you about who you want to be?

Whether you are actually doing what you want to or not, consider another question, “How in what I am doing can I live out who I am, and become more of who I want to be?”

So, what do you want to be when you grow up?


Image: photostock /

This entry was posted in Life.

2 comments on “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

  1. JohannBoghosian - Son of Cybuhr says:

    We live in a society where you are defined by what you do with your hands, not by who you are as an individual being. Its a frivolous ideology, which leads to nothing but judgement of one another, typically based off your “profession”.

    This is why money makes us cautious. We fear the judgement of not being able to afford the luxuries that others have. Luxuries that, in reality, have no true meaning and do nothing to define who we are as individual beings.

    Its almost as though these luxuries, the THINGS, have become more important to us than being REAL and TRUE to ourselves. All because we fear what others might think of us if we’re different; or as seen in their eyes, poor.

    Not to say that following your dreams, or being true to yourself, means you are destined have a low income. But I do feel as though many people do choose to do something other than what they love because they fear the income that is tagged with it.

    But is that actually good reasoning? Is it worth it to throw in the towel for a few extra luxuries? What about the luxury of knowing that you are doing what you love, knowing that you are being YOU? Is that not the greatest luxury of all?

    And, in truth, who is actually the “poor”? The man with no Ikigai (Japanese ideology, English translation: “something one lives for”) and a fancy hot tub? Or the man with meaning to his life; who knows exactly why he wakes with each sunrise; the man who finds the pure satisfaction in having only the distant memory of the ONE time he relaxed in a wild hotspring, rather than in simmering mindlessly in a backyard hot tub three times a week?

    This “You are Your Hands” ideology is bred of nothing but a false sense of caution & fear.

    You are not JUST your hands. You are your HEART. You are your SOUL. You are the ROCK beneath your feet. You are the SKY above your head. You are the AIR passing through your lungs and across your fingertips. You are the WATER that you drink when you are thirsty. You are the FLESH and VEGETATION that you consume in hunger. You are the LIGHT that temporarily blinds you as it reflects off the shimmering lake. You are YOU.

    But only if you let yourself BE.

    “Certain things catch your eye, but only pursue those that capture your heart.” -Old Indian Saying

    • Cybuhr says:

      Thank you for your excellent insight, Luther. A couple lines in particular stand out for me. “What about the luxury of knowing that you are doing what you love, knowing that you are being YOU? Is that not the greatest luxury of all?” Indeed it is. “You are YOU. But only if you let yourself BE.” Well said.
      When you were six years old and you were asked what you wanted to be when you grew up you replied, “I just want to be a plain old man. I don’t want to be a cat or a dog.” I’m glad you didn’t grow up into a cat or dog, just a man with extraordinary wisdom.

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