Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Isn't that the question that everyone is still trying to answer, whether you're 5 or 50? Or 23 in my case.

When I was little, I loved lining my stuffed animals up into rows and teaching them what I had learned at school by writing on an old chalkboard. I would even write up report cards for each stuffed animal (and I had a lot!), including extensive teacher comments on each one.

Another game I played with my best friend was "spy" - inspired by the Harriet the Spy movie and Nancy Drew books. I had a composition notebook and fanny-pack complete with magnifying glass, whistle, and compass. We would dress up in "camouflage" - and in my ten-year-old years, a lime green shirt with matching bright green shorts hid me in the trees - and walk the neighborhood. We would then proceed to solve all of the neighborhood's mysteries, like why a house alarm was going off or why paw prints were evident under a "Curb your dog" sign. I would record these clues in my composition notebook and by the end of the afternoon, we would have solved the mystery and saved the neighborhood.

Funny enough, my mom has been both a teacher and a criminologist, so maybe those two careers are more connected than at first glance.

Being a cowgirl partly came true when I lived in Nashville for four years during college...
Yeehaw to line dancing and country music! 

However, as adults, the difficult part about answering the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" is that we're tempted to want to give one word answers, like we did as kids, but our reality is not as defined. And oftentimes we want to change our mind every month day, but our adult world doesn't find that acceptable.

What I'm learning right now - and part of the reason that I started BeEmbraced - is that we need to learn to be content in the present, while still having a vision for the future.

Start discovering the joy of being embraced by the journey you are on:
  • Recognize that you don't need a one word answer to what your job is, what career path you're on, or even what you're passionate about. We are deeper than one word answers, one path destinations. It's ok to be in the process of discovery.
  • Allow yourself to dream. Suspend the need to have a concrete plan or perfectly defined answers, and instead ask yourself, "What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail?" I was recently asked this question in a self-discovery course, and it shocked me. I couldn't come up with anything because I kept getting stuck on thinking there's no way that'd be possible. Stop seeing the roadblocks. See the vision.
  • Start discovering your passions by acting on them in bold ways. You probably have some specific areas you're drawn to or interested in, such as health care access, AIDS prevention, or homelessness. But to really test and develop these, you have to interact with these issue-based passions on a deeper, more meaningful level. You need to get out of your comfort zone and confront these personally. What this looks like will differ from person to person and issue to issue, but you won't discover your purpose or "what you want to be when you grow up" until you meet your passions head on.
...And maybe your little kid dreams will end up having a kernel of truth to them.

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