What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut? A movie star? A librarian?

Whenever I was asked that question as a girl, I always answered with the first thing that came into my head. A teacher. I don’t know why, but it stuck with me throughout childhood and seeped its way into adolescence. I told myself that teaching was my dream job, that I just loved kids, that I would be a natural. In hindsight I probably knew that it would never be a satisfying career for me. I was pretty bad at presenting myself in front of others or interacting with kids. I spent my high school years doing subjects that were focused towards teaching careers. I wasted a year of my life at university doing a course that I wasn’t compatible with. I often wonder where I’d be now if I hadn’t convinced myself to go down the teaching route.

You’d think the realisation of all of this would have given me at least some subtle clue to what I really ought to do. It didn’t.


what did you want to be



I’ll be frank. I don’t have a single clue what I’m doing with my life. I was on the cusp of turning 18 and my life plans pretty much went to pot. I thought I had my whole life planned down to every last single meticulous detail. I’d go to uni, leave with a degree, do some travelling before settling as a primary teacher.

‘Settling’. I think that word should never be used when describing a career. You should be striving, aspiring, determined. Never settled. That word implies monotony, routine. Who wants that?

My present reality is so far from those well-intentioned plans I set out when I was too young to even know what life really meant. So far, my adult life has consisted of lots of little ‘experiments’. I’ve dabbled in a bit of travelling, tried out some voluntary work, floated from job to job and went from a completely independent young adult to a solely dependent woman who relies on her boyfriend for everything. Not that I am complaining, he is my rock in life.

The problem with not knowing what you want to do as a career is that you kind of end up wanting to do everything, all at once. One day you’re an intrepid explorer ready for physical challenges, the next you’re a writer, brain bursting at the seams with ideas. When you’ve no solid career path, you have some subtle freedoms that may go unnoticed by oneself. But to others they stick out like a sore thumb. You aren’t attached to a career path just because you put yourself £20,000 in debt and spent four gruelling years at uni. You’re not obliged to stay in a job if you don’t like it. You have no ties. You’re in a ‘friends with benefits’ type relationship with employment and future plans. The world is your oyster as they say, and that’s exactly the problem. It’s almost like being at a restaurant with an unnecessarily large menu and spending ages switching between choices.



This freedom might seem appealing to some. To me it’s daunting. Worrying about what I am going to do in ten years resurfaces in my mind occasionally, unwelcomingly familiar, like black and white reruns. I analyse everything I do, looking for some tiny sign that this is my calling. As of yet, no such luck.

Luck. Sometimes I feel like my lack thereof is one of the reasons I haven’t stumbled across my purpose in life just yet. Perhaps I already have, and I’ve passed it up in hopes of something better, due to a greed for something wholly satisfactory. Something fulfilling. Not just a job I’ve just settled for because I can. Too many people waste their lives away in dead end jobs, working to live – forgetting what ‘living’ really is. The thought of that possibly being my life haunts me. I’m the type of person who needs a constant flow of excitement to feel contented. I guess I have a mild form of undiagnosed adult ADHD in that I suffer from chronic boredom and an itch to do something.

One of my main problems is that the something I am searching for has to be completely satisfying. Something that will fulfil my needs like Christmas dinner fulfils my appetite. Something that will excite, enthral, enchant. Am I asking too much? I’ve always been told that you can do anything that you put your mind to, if you really want. So we’ll go with this and say no, I’m not asking too much. People might think I’m setting my sights too high, looking for something that isn’t there. I believe there is something out there for all of us, and no one should settle for less than what they’re worth. No one should settle for a job they were coaxed into doing by their careers advisors. Get out of your comfort zone. Explore. Try new things, new jobs. This is the only way to truly find out what your calling is in life. In my opinion anyway…

What is life like as someone who has no clear direction? For someone like me, a high functioning depressive with anger issues and a tendency to over-eat, it’s frightening. It’s an opportunity to see life with no future, a dangerous thought in my mind that can result in a whole array of reasons to feel worthless. But it’s not all bad. Like I mentioned previously, it’s allowed me some amazing freedoms. It’s given me the chance to live abroad, to solo travel, to cook, to read, to write, to blog. It’s allowed me to become a thinker. To self-evaluate. To have an openness unlike many people I know. When it comes down to it, it’s not so bad not knowing what you want to do, as long as you’re doing something that provides you contentment and happiness. For me, that’s my boyfriend, food and sleep.


20 thoughts on “What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?”

  • I wanted to be a paramedic when I grew up….I ended up becoming a talent buyer for 10 years before I moved to Michigan. I was VERY good at my job and while I miss it,I don’t regret leaving it when I did.

  • I am exactly the same like you my life hasnt quite gone to plan and I know it can be scary thinking about the future because when it comes to finances life can get a little scary. Hang in there you can do it x

  • As a kid I wanted to be anything cool I saw on TV and once I saw an American drama with a black female cop and I wanted go be that. Then it was doctor then vet but in my teens I realised I loved something to do with medicine and when I went to uni that’s what I did and that’s the job I do. It’s inportant not to settle as you said your career should be that you aspire for etc.

  • Thanks for sharing and being so open about your experiences. I wanted to be an astronaut but that didn’t happen… I’ve found many other things to do and fall in love with luckily.

  • I always wanted to be a hairdresser and then it became a solicitor but that was 99% my Dad trying to convince me that I wanted to become a solicitor, ha! Now… I have a first class degree in Graphic Design and I’m a full time blogger. Funny how things change!

  • Teaching is the only profession which I tried and I couldn’t continue with it. It seems very easy job but once you enter in the field, it is the most tiring and stressful job to do, if done with full honesty. I will acknowledge that you are brave to take teaching as a profession and if you really love it, there are lots of opportunities to grow . Other than that, experimenting with different ideas is not a bad thing. This is how we find our stomping ground and learn about our capabilities. So don’t get scare and stress. Keep a positive attitude and things will work for you 🙂

  • I don’t think you should settle. If your decision to become a teacher is not what you want right now, don’t do it. Find what you love and do that. If, in time, things change, change what you are doing. This is what I did and I’m happy. I hope you’ll be able to say the same thing soon.

    • I know, when I decided teaching wasn’t for me I felt a lot happier. Still on my path to finding the right career for myself though

  • I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and in a sense, as a blogger, my dreams have come true. That wasn’t without many detours and many years doing a job that I “should” be doing. Finally , in my late 20’s the lightbulb went on and I decided to do things that brought me joy and contentment and I ended up where I am now. I hope that if you follow your heart, the rest will follow. xx

  • It’s not an easy choice too make and I think people often fall into their career by just trying out a few things to see how they like them. I’m glad you’ve found contentment where you are at. Mich x

  • I got to the end of my degree and didn’t know what I wanted to do. I ended up as a secondary teacher. I’ve now changed direction, after realising it wasn’t sustainable witha family, and love my work so much more than I did when I was teaching.

  • I always wanted to be a singer and musician when I grew up. Although I am a musician I guess you could say things never turned out who I expected them to. I am happy to be able to write and share my music with my church though. This is a really lovely post y the way. Thank you for being so open.

  • I told my parents I wanted to be a nurse because we had to do a career day in elementary school and I thought that will be the easiest costume to get. Ever since then, my parents had that stuck in their head and I now hate the idea of wearing scrubs which was why I didnt go to nursing school. I do identify more as a teacher as I love to learn even more than I like to teach others. Which is what I think being a teacher to be!

  • I could have written this myself a few years back. I always wanted to be a writer then lost my mojo and sense of direction and had no clue what I wanted to do. I tried my hand at a few different things before falling into blogging which led to freelance writing. I’m now doing the job I wanted to do 15 years ago and loving it. It will eventually pan out and you will work out what you want to do, it will just take some time.

  • One thing for sure I remember I always wanted to travel the world and looked at the maps when I was little…so its not surprise I find myself living half way across the world from where I was born.

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