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When I Grow Up

Friday, February 11, 2011

{Print from Jenzet}

The question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” always made me cringe. Somehow, it always seemed so limiting. Like there’s just one answer- a multiple choice test with only one box to fill in.  In high school, I had high hopes for that questionnaire they hand out-  identifying strengths and possible career matches. Instead, I was horrified to see my counselor had marked my golden ticket as “hotel hospitality”. Luckily, I dug a little deeper and realized that since I’d actually only been to a couple hotels in my whole life and I much preferred academics, teaching was a better route for me.

And so, I became one. I remember my first month into teaching special education, after graduating college and moving on to a great big city, I thought to myself, “is this it?”  Although I desperately loved teaching & it filled a certain void...I still wondered, “what now that I’ve checked the box?”

Jumping forward a half decade and now a mother to a three year-old, the idea of what to be when grown up burdens me even more. Just the other day someone asked my son that very question.  No doubt they were attempting the somewhat difficult task of small talk with a preschooler but my son looked at me with serious concern and confusion.  He said  “just pick one thing?”  After mulling it over for a second he replied, “a construction-worker fireman space guy with a motorcycle.”

I smiled gleefully and thought, “hooray!”

That’s it. The wisdom of a 3 year-old addressed my personal conflict; Am I still a teacher now that I stay home with him? Have I erased that box and checked a new one, a stay at home mum? Or how about crafter? Or more officially, small business owner? Since I have a bum knee can I still call myself a runner?  At this moment and five months pregnant, do my dorky exercise videos qualify me as an athlete?

Yes. To “all of the above.”

In my son, dressed in his cowboy hat and chaps sitting in the laundry basket turned rocket ship, I can clearly appreciate my journey- and the various titles and labels and characteristics it brings.

Because I’m checking my own boxes...as many as I want.


Jen said...

I can relate to this post. I have been struggling for several months now with that question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" The problem is, I am grown up and I don't know. I feel like I should know. I feel like there's something wrong with me because I don't know. 2 degrees under my belt and a Master's degree in progress and people ask me "What will you do after your Master's?" and I say "I don't know." They say "Do you want to teach?" I say, "No, not really." Then they ask me why I got a Bachelor of Education. Why am I getting a Master's in Education.

I don't really have an answer because I really don't know what I'm doing except following my heart and wondering if I shouldn't follow my head...

Magpie Shinies said...

I, too, can relate. I talked myself out of arts & design school, as I was too afraid of not being good enough. I married a man who everyone else told me was a really great catch and whose family proceeded to pressure me into law school. After school, I was jobless for quite a while, as I DID NOT want to be a lawyer!

I finally got a job as a lawyer, and about two months later decided I no longer wanted to be this man's wife. About a month later, I discovered a lump in my breast, and now for over two years I have been battling cancer.

In the meanwhile, I married my best friend who wants me to do what I want to do - so now I'm trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

Pili said...

When I was little I knew so well what I wanted, upon asked, I always answered: a nurse!

And here I am, being exactly that, a nurse. It is a very fulfilling job, and a very demanding one, but I sit back now and know that I need more to feel complete... and I know I don't want to spend the rest of my life being a nurse, at some point it would burn me up for good.

I have my hobbies, that I treasure for they allow me to be myself fully, and I keep adding little tags to who and what I am, but mostly if I were asked now, ME would be the right answer!

laura said...

wonderful post. i agree whole heartedly. i'm a 4th grade teacher and small business owner on the side. i find myself realizing that what was once my passion is now just a 'job'. my passion lies within my family and business. i believe that your boxes change over the years. they get checked and unchecked...and that is exactly how God planned it. Glorious free will and feeling ALIVE.

Happy friday Alissa. :)

Marci Girl said...

My "what do I want to be questioner" in high school stated that I should be a forest ranger. Really? A forest ranger? Ok no. I do love the outdoors and solitude, so I can see that suggestion, but how random is that? Since I am a grown up now...what do I want to be? Myself.

RiverDog Prints said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RiverDog Prints said...

Long ago, I wish someone had shared that secret your 3yo knows already. I did finally discover that you can be many things and have many careers. No boxes, just choices for a happy, healthy life. Great post, Allisa!

alamodestuff said...

Beautiful post! What a wonderful lesson to glean from your 3yo! The hats change often and that's okay. We actually build on our experiences only enriching the next. It's great to be reminded of that.

alamodestuff said...

BTW, I added your link to ours on my blog ; ) Thanks for joining our OM Meet up!

Angie said...

Oh, you hit the nail on the head! Checking a single box is so limiting. Our parents' generation did just that. They checked a box and committed to the same career for the next 35 years. That can't be healthy for the human psyche. Congratulations on having such a smart boy and having the wisdom to recognize his potential.

Dielle said...

My boys have similar answers, and they're 8 and 11. They have no problem conceiving of being a pilot, an explorer, an architect, and a illustrator all at the same time. I love that!

Allisa Jacobs said...

Love hearing all your stories & journeys...thank you for sharing them- xoxo