Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

When I Grow Up This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


More by this author
In kindergarten, my class was asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Crayons danced across sheets of ­paper to illustrate our dream occupations. Our drawings were hung in the hallway for our parents to see at Back to School Night. I remember looking down the line and seeing pictures of ballerinas dancing, firefighters putting out a blaze, and astronauts leaping across the moon – careers that were seen as typical dreams of five-year-olds.

My picture showed a stick figure with brown hair holding a carton of orange juice over a large rectangle that was supposed to be a counter. Underneath was my barely legible handwriting: “When I grow up, I want to work at the Market Basket because it would be fun to swipe orange juice across the scanner.” To this day my parents won’t let me forget that out of everything I could have aspired to be, my five-year-old self wished to work at the local grocery store.

When we are young, questions of what we want to be when we grow up are common. Yet we are not expected to respond with an answer that is likely to come true. However, when we become teens, we are asked the very same question twice as often. The difference is, now we are supposed to ­answer with confidence.

Teens are expected to know exactly what we want to be and how we are going to achieve that goal. Not all of us can be so sure. Even though I am in high school, I ­cannot answer convincingly. But I don’t ­consider that a bad thing. How am I supposed to know what I will want to spend my time doing at age 40?

When I think about the future, I definitely don’t see myself working at the Market ­Basket, but in reality, if that was what would make me happy, I would do it. So, the next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I will simply say “happy.”

Happiness is a destination for everyone. We may want to walk different paths in life, but we all want to be happy wherever we end up. Choose your path, but don’t worry too much about choosing wisely. Make a ­mistake or two and try new things. But ­always remember, if you’re not happy, you’re not at the end of your journey yet.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




Join the Discussion


This article has 179 comments. Post your own!

aenakshi183 said...
Mar. 9 at 1:19 am:
nice one i was happy when i read this sweet eaasy
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Keenan22 said...
Feb. 11 at 8:15 pm:
Yes I would agree with what the author said in her article.  When we are kids our imagination runs wild and uncontrolled at some points.  We never really know what we want to do because we are so little and have no clue what the world ahead of us is going to be like.  For all we know that dream job we picked when we were five, chances are we will not end up pursuing that specific job in the future.  For example when I was a kid I wanted to race dirt bikes for a living.  ... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Marissa M. said...
Feb. 3 at 12:47 am:
I personally think that this article truly demonstrates one of the most important lessons in life that you could learn: money cannot buy you happiness. Even though you may have head this saying multiple times before, there is a difference between hearing it, and actually understanding what it means. This article captures that perfectly. I'll admit, many times I have wondered what careers I could do that offer a lot of money. I found that these careers can usually be found in the science and ... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Marissa M. said...
Feb. 3 at 12:35 am:
I personally think that this article truly demonstrates that money cannot buy happiness and it is very important to be happy and enjoy your future. If you are miserable, or just simply are not satisfied with what you are doing with your life then you should absolutely
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
liveloveskateee said...
Feb. 1 at 4:57 pm:
This article is very well written and couldn't be more true! I often think about my future and different jobs, but I haven't found one that I can clearly say, "Yes this is what I was meant to do". As I continue to search for this one special job made for me, I will keep the thought of happiness in mind. As much as everyone wants to be successful and make lots of money, I have realized that money can't buy happiness. My parents have always told me that no matter what I do wh... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
-Caroline said...
Jan. 31 at 2:38 pm:
Love this article! In my career launch class this is exactly what we've been talking about- what do you want to be? Before any job or career, I just want to be happy and thats the most important thing!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Maaddiiee18 said...
Jan. 31 at 2:26 pm:
I agree 100% with this!  When I was younger I always used to say that I was going to be an artist when I grew up, and now I can't draw at all!  What you said about your jouney isn't complete until you are completely happy stood out to me because I always believe this!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
rheameThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 6, 2013 at 10:53 am:
100% true!!!! and HAPPY eveyone!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
royalujjwa4This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Mar. 30, 2013 at 10:58 pm:
god!! i've been telling people 'happy' since quite a long time as well!! Even in my entrance exams, i fill out the forms with 'happy', for 'aim in life'!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Dominik-the-donkey said...
Jan. 3, 2013 at 6:35 pm:
I know exactly what you are talking about!  When I was younger life was so easy and I knew exactly what I wanted to do wether it was a painter or a astronaut or a pilot, but now that I'm in 8th grade so much has changed and I have absolutely 100% no clue what I want to do.  I think others might know more than me about myself! I feel so lost and I'm afraid that if I don't pick the right one then I will be stuck with it and won't be happy.
 
Ishi14 replied...
Dec. 18, 2013 at 9:07 am :
Friend, the thing you wrote is exactly what I think. 
Even I'm in 8th Std. and puzzled up for my future. 
I'm so worried that all my mates would have decided their career but I guess I'm the one who is still confused!
 
inspired replied...
yesterday at 12:06 pm :
ishi14 i completely agree with u and i am also suprisingly in 8th grade
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
TaylorG said...
Jan. 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm:
i really agree with you that "happiness is a destination for everyone." All anyone really wants is to be in life is happy.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
13Katty13 said...
Jan. 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm:
I totally understand what you are trying to get across! I from now on say that I as well just want to be happy when I get older. I stil dont know what I want to be.  
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
sarahw123 said...
Oct. 16, 2012 at 8:49 pm:
Last paragraph is beautifully written! The wait to be happy is always the worst. 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
alepinklover said...
Oct. 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm:
I agree with everything!!!! I am a true believer that you have to do something that makes me happy because I wouldn't want to be miserable my whole life doing something if i had the chance to do and be happy.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Ruby-Paige-Rose said...
Sept. 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm:
I wish everyone could see the journey of life like you do. You're right. Happiness is the key.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
AriShineThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 3, 2012 at 10:07 pm:
This gave me shivers... "Happiness is a destination for everyone...if you're not happy, you're not at the end of your jouney yet." I will quote this! Words of wisdom! LOVE!
 
Sara D. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 13, 2013 at 11:22 am :
Thank you for your support! Four years later and I'm still writing! :)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Black_Rose_Princess said...
Jun. 23, 2012 at 10:25 pm:
Beautifully written! This is definitely something I can relate to. And your answer is amazing and so true. 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback