What do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

when-you-grow-up2I was talking to a friend the other day, discussing how we’re adults now (we’re both turning 28 this year) and how our lives have turned out differently than we thought they would. It was a rather serious conversation, you know, about changing one’s expectations and all that, but it got us talking about our childhood dreams as well.

So my question for you is: what do you want to be when you grow up? Or, alternatively, what was your opinion on the matter when you were a kid or a college student still deciding what to do with your life? Do you think you’ve yet to choose your career or are you already doing what you think you’ll be doing for the rest of your life?

I’m currently on maternity leave, but when I’m working, I work as a freelance book translator. This is a wonderful job and I’m rather good at it – and if I picture myself 40 years from now, I can easily see myself doing the same thing (it all depends on the book you get, really, but each translation is a new journey – you book-lovers can surely relate). I know I’m incredibly lucky to have found such a great match for myself in my (late) 20s and I can only hope it’ll stick. I knew I wanted to work with books when I was about 15 and I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in English and then had to wait for the Slovenian translation (Harry Potter in ognjeni kelih) to come out so I could discuss it with my friends.

But I had my share of other ideas when I was growing up – they include (but are not limited to) the following:

  1. A primary-school teacher – my grandmother was one, so I guess I picked up the idea from her. Interestingly, I never wanted to be a psychologist though both my parents are just that.
  2. A botanist/pharmacist – I imagined the job would entail working in something resembling a tea shop where people would come with their ailments and I’d have the answer to everything.
  3. A witch – I think we can all safely assume this one is the result of my fascination with Harry Potter.
  4. A professor at Oxford University/la Sorbonne – this one came along when I was about 14 and visited Oxford with my parents (Paris came into play later, when I had French in high school for the first time). Have you ever seen how amazing the architecture is? I’d still jump at a chance to teach there, that’s for sure!
  5. A journalist/photographer working for National Geographic – my father has been a subscriber to the American edition of this magazine for at least 20 years and I think leafing through (and eventually reading) the articles on amazing landscapes and foreign cultures is one of the reasons I love travelling so much. This is another opportunity I’d still love to get! :)

My husband, who’s a really good computer programmer now, wanted to design cars when he was little. This friend of mine, who now works as a teacher of French language and also as a kindergarten teacher, wanted to study remote cultures in Africa.

None of us is unhappy with our lives right now – it’s just that our lives went a different way from what we imagined when we were growing up. Our lives rarely turn out according to our plans, which makes them all the more interesting and unpredictable.

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I’d love to hear your stories: What made you choose your current studies/profession? What were your childhood dreams? Have you formed any new dreams recently? :)

  • I wanted to be a primatologist! A fanciful dream, to say the least, one that I’m not entirely unhappy about not coming true. Even if I’d gotten lucky enough to score some fieldwork, it would have been a tough life requiring a lot of dedication and travel, and when I was a college student that sounded fine, but now I’m 30 with two kids and I don’t think I’d trade what I have now for anything! These days Jane Goodall is still one of my heroes though, and I have a love for all things primate.

    • Kaja

      Ha, that’s a cool one! :) Working in the jungle, huh? I’m not too fond of primates – they’re too smart to be animals, really, aren’t they? – but that’s exactly the reason why they’re so fascinating.
      And yeah, I get what you’re saying. I don’t feel like I’ve given anything up by having a family and choosing a different path!

  • At one point I REALLY wanted to work in publishing, maybe as an editor. A part of me still thinks that would be amazing, but I don’t know whether it would be a great fit. (I love editing, but I’m somewhat picky about my reading.) For a short time, I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I decided I had no wish to attend law school. Now, I’m a legal assistant and starting law school in the fall.

    • Kaja

      Ooh, I’d love to work as an editor, too! Maybe someday :)
      Law school in the US (well, everywhere, to be honest) sounds rally difficult! I wish you the best of luck and heaps of motivation ;)

  • I’m 24 and can safely say I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, which is made worse by the fact I am a grown up and thought I’d have figured it out by now. I think you’re job translating books sounds really interesting, I can safely say my grasp of languages is terrible.

    When I was a kid I wanted to be a vet because I love animal, until I realised I would be traumatised if they ever died, and I realised I’d have to study science forever to get there, so that went out the window.

    I then wanted to be a primary school teacher, because my nan was a teacher and she was always so nice, I wanted that. But as I grew up I realised I have a fear of public speaking and am not very good with children, so that was another idea done with.

    I then wanted to work in a library because I liked books, but turns out there are qualifications and experience required for that. I wanted to be a writer too at one point, but since I never persevered with writing, and still fail to grasp how to correctly use grammar and construct sentences I don’t think that will happen.

    When I was at uni I thought about working in museums because I was doing history, but there is no funding in it so the only way to get a position is to volunteer and wait for a vacancy and sadly I couldn’t afford that option. The same went for my dreams of working as an archivist or book conservationist, very competitive positions where experience is key, but the only experience you can get is through volunteering and turns out that won’t pay the bills.

    So I’m 24 work in finance and am pretty happy. I’m contemplating doing some more finance learning in accounts so I can move up in the world, considering I always thought I’d have a more creative job it is a bit of a change from what I dreamt of when I was younger, but then I always loved maths at school (I know, I love to read and enjoy maths, I was a strange one) so it isn’t as surprising as it could have been. I just fell into my job and it’s working ok so far.

    And that is my essay-length comment over, sorry :)

    • Kaja

      This is such a cool answer! I like that you had a whole bunch of things “planned” when you were younger – my experience was similar but life just doesn’t go the way you wanted it to and that’s usually a good thing in the end! :)

      *high five* on the teaching bit – why are grandmas such cool source of inspiration, though? Probably because they spoil us :)

      Ooh, working in one of the grat British museums would have been awesome, I expect. Our museums are quite small and under-funded so it was never really an option for me but I love visiting the huge museums when I travel.

      But yeah, wehave a similar situation here with regards to culture – there’s no money so if you want to work in the field, it’s volunteering most of the time.