Never Grow Up
As an adult, it’s hard to remember many things from childhood. These days, when I think back to my younger years, I can remember a few very happy moments (tying my shoes for the first time) and a few very sad moments (missing the ice cream man because I didn’t hear his chimes).
I also remember certain rules, such as being nice to people is always the right thing to do, and milk makes your bones strong. Girls have cooties. Boys don’t. You know, these were the rules of life.
And I remember being asked questions; more specifically, I remember being asked one question. This question was seemingly very simple to answer as a 5-year old, but over the course of adolescence and into early adulthood has become seemingly as complex as time travel. That question is as follows:
“What are you going to be when you grow up?”
As a 5-year old boy in kindergarten, my answer without much effort was simple – a police officer. I remember knowing that boys became police officers because that was the job that boys did. Obviously my thought processes were oversimplified, but I was 5 – give me a break.
By the time that I was 8 years old and in Grade 3, I realized that being a police officer was not as easy as I had thought it to be in kindergarten. Police officers had to catch bad guys. And carry guns. Both of which terrified me. Yes, I respected the Men in Blue very much, but I had started to realize that I was more of an academic type by my ripe age of 7.
Then I considered law. I didn’t know what lawyers did, really. But I knew they wore suits. And worked in offices. And it was difficult to become a lawyer, which appealed to me. And lawyers were on TV. Yep, law it was.
Then for the next 10-15 years of my life, this question remained on my mind and I constantly flip-flopped through a career Rolodex. I actually remember being 8 years old and having stress in my life about what I should do when I was done high school. Do I go to College? University? Where will I live? What will I do? I need to know. Why? Because people keep asking.
The reason I write this article is because I meet many people who get very stressed out about where they are going, what degree they should major in, and ultimately where they will end up. I know because I went through these same stresses, and to an extent still have them today.
But I think it is important to keep in mind one thing – we never have to grow up. Of course, we need to do grown up things, like get jobs, make money, get mortgages and the like, but we never have to settle with a career, and never have to settle with a state of mind.
As people, we are constantly aging, constantly growing, constantly learning new things and shifting our interests. As time goes on, we change. And we should embrace our ever-evolving selves.
After a long and winding road, I am currently in medical school and on a path to become a doctor. I am very happy and I am confident that I will enjoy my career immensely.
But I also like to write. And I want to learn to play music. And teach. And I would love to travel. And I love comedy. And I may still do all of these things. It is important to remember that deciding on a degree or a career is not life’s penultimate decision. We can change our degrees. We can change our careers. And I know that as time goes on, I will change. And I will try to embrace it.
Next time someone asks me, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”, I’ll answer them with a simple, “I’ll never know.”
And that’s the right answer. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.