Who (Not What) We Want To Be When We Grow Up Is What Really Matters

Melancholia / Amazon.com
Melancholia / Amazon.com

It’s the age-old question that we’re asked at every family gathering, every college counseling session, every casual conversation with our neighbors.

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

It’s the question that has danced around my thoughts for the last couple years. It’s the question that decides our future: what we want to major in, where we want to live, our plans after high school graduation. I’m 18, and I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up. My mom is 44, and I don’t even think she knows what she wants to be when she “grows up”. Life is not a stable, definite concept. Things are always changing: our interests, our abilities, our dreams/beliefs/hopes/needs/wants. It’s perfectly okay to not know what you want to spend the rest of your life doing.

Naturally, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my answer to this question as I begin to start thinking about the real world and entering adulthood. And while I can’t say I’ve found my answer, I have started thinking about something that, in my opinion, might be even more important.

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know who I want to be:

  • I want to be someone who never loses appreciation for the little things in life. Sunday afternoons in spring spent on the back patio with your parents, a good cup of tea in the morning, laughing until you physically cannot breathe — these are some of the best feelings in the world that should never be taken for granted.
  • I don’t want to let life’s unpredicted and unfortunate events make me jaded. I want to keep my innocent, unwavering faith that everything happens for a reason and that good things happen at the right time, for the right reasons. I never want to become hopeless — I want to try to find the lesson in every trying situation.
  • I want to give my blessings to other people. Whether that means giving heartfelt advice to a friend in need, giving a cup of sugar to a neighbor, or giving $5 to the man on the side of the road.
  • I want to be a woman who keeps all her beliefs and values; I want to honor the promise I made to my teenage self: to never, ever change myself for a man. I want to always believe that love is good and real (regardless of if I ever find it or not). If I am lucky enough to find the person that gives me my happily-ever-after, I want to put every ounce of my being into an honest relationship because true love deserves nothing less.
  • I don’t want to care about the way other people perceive my lifestyle. I am what I am, I do what I do. End of story.
  • I want to adopt Oscar Wilde’s words as the motto of my life: “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
  • I want to be able to properly show my parents how grateful I am for the way they raised me, and all they’ve sacrificed and done for me as I grew up. I don’t ever want a single day to go by where they question my love, adoration, and appreciation for the life of endless opportunities and unwavering love that they gave me.
  • I always want my brother and sister to be my best friends, no matter what.
  • When I’m 80, I want to look back on my life and remember the moments that gave me pure bliss. I want to be content with my mistakes, and happy with my choices. I want to know that I lived my life to the best of my ability, and that I really truly meant something to someone.

I don’t know what occupation I want to have or what city I want to live in, but I am starting to piece together the kind of person I want to grow into — and I think that’s the most important decision we can make. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog