Monday, August 1, 2011

What do you want to be when you grow up?

...is a question that a lot of adults LOVE to ask kids.


"Doctor!"
"Engineer!"
"Scientist!"
"Astronaut!"


With these answers, the adults will nod in satisfaction and approval. Yes, these are the kind of answers that are expected. These are the kind of answers that are acceptable.


But, get an answer like:


"I don't know." Or,
"I'm not really sure."


and the adults are completely taken aback, as if someone had just pulled the rug from under their feet. Some might even stumble a few steps back in physical shock.


"Wha--Whattttt??? How cannnn???!! You dunno what you wanna be ar?"




And if you get that answer from someone who is not a kid per se? Maybe a young adolescent of 17? 18? 19?


I think the adults would literally fall over backwards on their bums with utter shock! Maybe with their mouths frozen in a rounded 'O' too. Like this ----> :O




When you think about it, why do we respond in such a way? It's acceptable for a five-year-old to say that he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up, but not acceptable for a seventeen-year-old to say he's unsure of his future career path?


Does a five-year-old even know what being an astronaut really means? What it entails? What he'd have to do, the responsibilities, the commitment, the day-to-day tasks of being an astronaut?


Ridiculous, isn't it?




Sure, I'm all for having a noble ambition and dreaming big. I'm going to be a future teacher la, helloooo?


But at the same time, it has to be realistic. It is an important decision that has to be based on more than just, "Cos I want to go to the moon like Datuk SMS!"


It's more complicated than that. (Duh!!)


You have to consider the subject matter and related academic fields of study. You have to consider your strengths in those said areas, your intellect, skills, capabilities. In certain professions, even your personality and temperament may determine if the career choice is the most suitable for you.


With all these to take into consideration, do you think a five-year-old can make such choices adequately? Even young adults in their twenties struggle with the "best career choice" for their lives, what more young adolescents?




The sad thing is, a lot of young people do not really put serious thought into selecting their future career choice. Many of them stick to ambitions they made when they were five! (Well, maybe not when they were exactly five, but when they were basically too young to really make such an important decision with absolute certainty.) 


"No, I have to be a doctor! It's that, or nothing!"


When I hear things like that, I have to question their motives. Do they want to be a doctor because they have always had such compassion and heart for helping the sick and wounded, or simply because they had decided to be one when they were younger?


I have seen friends who are adamant on becoming doctors, engineers; yet are unable to scrape even a passing grade for biology and physics subjects in school. And they want to be professional doctors? Engineers?


It is a good ambition indeed, one that was always met with very impressed nods of approval. But have they ever re-evaluated this decision? Really considered if this was the right path for them, with their current abilities and capabilities, personality and temperament?


Many, who are at that fork in the road of life, do not do that. They would rather remain stubbornly persistent in pursuing a career that is not suitable for them in order to fulfill a "childhood dream" than accept that that "childhood dream" of theirs is not for them. Never was.




Making the right choice for the future is so very important. It determines if we will be fulfilled, satisfied, and live a meaningful life where we enjoy what we do, or if we will live miserable, frustrated, dissatisfied lives in a job we hate. Or worse, we might be in a job that we have always wanted, but never being the best that we can be because it is not the best job for us. Can you truly be happy knowing that you are not the best doctor, or the best engineer that you can be, simply because you refused to acknowledge that the profession might not be the best for you? That possibly, very possibly, your talents might be of better use in another field?


To do so, I believe that we have to be much older. With age, comes maturity and a better understanding of oneself. With age, we should possess a more comprehensive knowledge of who we are, our interests, as well our strengths and weaknesses as an individual.




So when, during family gatherings, I see an aunt or an uncle pestering some of my younger cousins, "harassing" them by asking them what they want to be (An accountant? Engineer? Or doctor like your father?) I get slightly annoyed.


Why the rush? They're only 13, 15 years old. Even at 17, 18, 19, 20--we can still be unsure of ourselves. Why do we push and pressure our kids to make such decisions now? You might be making them to set goals for themselves that may end up "blinding" them to other possibilities.


Give them time. Let them discover who they are as a person, realize their strengths and weaknesses, and then choose their careers based on what they're good at, and what they're genuinely interested in. All the money in the world will mean nothing if you're miserable doing what you do. You will live only with regret.


If they're sure, great. If they're still unsure, don't pressure them then either. Encourage them. Help them discover more about themselves. It's okay to be unsure. It's a huge decision, if you really think about it. And you want to make the right first step forward.




What do I want to be when I grow up?


I want to be happy. 


So don't rush into such decisions, and don't rush others into such decisions.




I told my cousins, "Don't listen to kuku (aunty), listen to me. Take your time, you're still young. Find what you enjoy, what makes you happy, and go from there."


I guess, it's really not so complicated after all :)

2 comments:

One who has been changed said...

Re: the name of your blog reminded me of Isaiah 40:31 in the Bible. You are spot on that most children do not have a real clue as to what they want to be when they grow up. So many cultures are focused on the wrong things. The goal should be to know God through His son Jesus the Christ and then seek to follow His career path for your life. (Check out book of John in the Bible to find how to be changed from the inside out.)

SandraC said...

u are so right in so many ways. community sometimes have crazy unrealistic expectations..people should do what they like..and grow up to be normal happy ppl not rich but depressed freaks! haha