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?