What do you want to BE when you grow up?
Remember when you were little and Aunt Mary, the aunt you only see on holidays, asks you those “catch-up” questions while pinching your adorable cheeks?
“Dahling, How is school?”
“What’s your favorite subject?”
“Why are you growing so fast?”
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
That last one is a kiss of death question. Am I right? I remember giving the answers they wanted to hear just to satisfy Aunt Mary’s curiosity and to end the conversation. I learned early on that when you gave a bold, confident response such as teacher, doctor or architect, then the Aunt Marys of the world had little to no room for more questions or better yet, advice. It would catch the relatives off guard at how assured you were and how clear your life goals were. With a confident answer to Aunt Mary’s questions, then you must know what you want to be when you grow up.
I have never had a clear goal of what I want to “be” when I grew up. For as long as I can remember, I have had this internal dialogue about what my purpose was in life. It looked a little bit like this:
‘I want to try out all kinds of different jobs and career paths!’
‘How is that going to work out for you? Seems a little unfocused don’t you think? ‘
This is just one of the many personal conversations I have had. I wasn’t necessarily always kind to myself because it’s never been crystal clear for me what I should “be”. A teacher, doctor, and architect were always my top favorites go-to answers when Aunt Mary asked those dreaded questions but the answers always felt shallow. These areas are still of great interest to me but I have never pursued any of them fully because being a stay at home parent was my highest priority and also I knew that if I pigeon-holed myself into one of these careers, I wouldn’t be satisfied or happy. The result? I have done a little bit of everything and felt pretty happy doing so, however, feeling like I was always being judged by others. I swear I could hear them say, “Wow she changes her mind a lot”, behind me.
From an early age, I was taught that your life’s purpose was how you spent the majority of your day or how you contributed to your household. This, for me, translated into the job you held or if you stayed at home to raise your children. Having a clear career path whether it’s in the workforce (teacher, doctor, architect, lawyer, accountant, astronaut, politician, policeman, etc.) or raising humans (which is by far the hardest and best job I have ever had) are still both excellent life’s purpose scenarios, but it is not the only scenario.
A third scenario and quite possibly the most important one is that we are already living our life’s purpose by doing what we are currently doing however that looks. Quick! Call Aunt Mary and tell her!
I look at humanity like a puzzle where each one of us are pieces to that puzzle. There are no pieces that are better than others. Obviously the corner and outside pieces are what will anchor the puzzle, but they don’t create the entire picture. The inside pieces make up the majority of the picture but need the outside edge to keep it from floating obscurely. There are times in our lives where we are “being” an outside edge piece and then there are times where we are “being” a middle piece. The point is, is that we are all a part of the same project. We are all valuable, essential, and contribute to the larger picture. It doesn’t matter if we have a clear pathway to our job choice or not. What matters is that we do what we are good at, what makes us happy, and how we feel will make the bigger picture the best and brightest it can be.
I have had several jobs or careers in my lifetime already AND been a stay-a-home-parent and yet until I found this “Note to Self” snippet on social media (Thank you to my high school friend Amy for sharing), I was still beating myself up for not finding my “calling” or purpose in life. I have never been able to understand how someone could be so clearly focused on a career path that they make it all the way to the end of their education AND still want that job. I USED TO totally beat myself up for not being good enough.
I thought I had adult ADD.
I thought I was lazy.
I thought I was unfocused and unmotivated.
I am sure Aunt Mary thought so too, but the reality is that I am at my best when I am being a middle piece!
Some people need identifying names to contextualize your worth to them. I no longer care what that looks like. I no longer need a label to share with people. I am a human first and everything else is learnable and accessible to me if I choose to pursue it. Some people are drawn to being an outside or corner piece. While others are drawn to being good at filling in the gaps and making connections between the outside of the puzzle and the inside. What matters is that it all works and that collectively we make the puzzle complete. Without each other working together at our life’s purpose, we would all just be a bunch of mismatched pieces next to each other. When people ask me what I am or what I do for a living; I think I am going to have a bit of fun and say, “I am in Core Management of a very large corporation.” [Middle Piece Administration of life].
So today I want you to know that you no longer have to wait to figure out what you want to do when you grow up. You are already living your life’s purpose and rocking it! It is completely acceptable to pursue other interests and have it quite possibly evolve into something else at some point in your lifetime. Please know that you are already making the world better by being the best YOU, that only you can be.
Thank you for sharing your puzzle piece with the rest of us, it is totally making a difference.