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

April 24, 2009
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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.

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Kiersten H. said...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 7:14 am
I disagree with you. By your age, in high school, you should know what you want to do for a living. Im in 8th grade and i already know what i want to do and what college i want to go to. Im already completing projects that will look very impressive on a college application. Also i already have high school credits in middle school. You need to think about your future and plan ahead or else you will ruin your life. Good luck honey, your gonna need some.
dancegirl13 replied...
Apr. 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm
Kiersten - It's great that you're looking ahead to your future. But, are you enjoying what you're doing to prepare for college? 15 years from now, when you look back on your childhood, maybe you'll be really glad you focused so much on the four years of your life called college. Or maybe you'll wished that you relaxed, had fun, lived in the moment, and realized that no matter what happens, it will be meaningless unless you're happy.
WarriorGirl17 said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm
I can really relate to this article! There has been so many times when people ask me what I want to do for a career when I grow up. It seems like an easy question to answer, but it really takes some contemplating. I think that when I get to high school I will be able to come up with a better answer to that question, because I will have more knowledge to back it up. Nicely written! :)
contemplatorThis 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. replied...
Feb. 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm
To often have I been asked that question. But nobody expected me to know the answer. Only Dad expected an answer. So, I gave him a list of things I don't want to be.
emma_rogate14 said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:28 am
I agree with you! I've never had one thing I've wanted to be because I have no idea! But it doesn't matter what job you want to have though, you just need to be happy with your life.
teenink987654321 said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:19 am
I think that you were so right! People spend so much time stressing on what they want to be and to make sure its a good plan, but they need to realize that what they are really reaching for is happiness. Children are pressured to be a certain thing but then end up dropping out of college because they hate their jod or profession that much. I love your post!
ZeenatRogate said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:15 am
I agree, I wanted to be a Pop Star when I grew up but now I want to be something more within reach but I think that I think about it, I think I should wait.
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:12 am
I agree. If you are happy you can accomplish anything. I love your childhood story. JUst keep being happy and you will be anything you want to be
Balletgirl6 said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:08 am
I completely agree with you! The sad thing, however, is that when people now ask me what I want to be when I grow up, as a teenager, I'm expected to respond with a boring proffession, and a logical plan. Society expects younger children to dream, but scolds teenagers who have a dream. More than half of us won't become what we expected, so why not dream?!?!
K-Berg13 said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:06 am
I thought your child hood story was hilarious, i also think your absolutly right about happiness. Happiness can get you anywhere.
nickknackpattywack replied...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:12 am
i believe that you are completelyright happiness is the way to go
Samantha H. said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:04 am
Exactly. I wanted to be a singer when I was little and after almost 10 years of lessons I don't want to do it anymore and I don't need my parents pressuring me to stick with it so I don't give up my dream
screename4 said...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 6:39 am
i totally agree. I know people who feel the same way. This was really cool.
linkinparkrcks said...
Dec. 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm
<3 da quote....! =)
Book_addict said...
Dec. 8, 2011 at 9:25 pm
Cool thoughts!  I think this is the sentiment that 99.9% of us feel.  You put it together fabulously =)
Nora2012 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm
I feel the same way sometimes and my sis wanted to be a garbage woman :D i feel like you sprung the cheesy cliche "be happy" trap. i love the meaning and the unique story but try turning the meaning less common
SkittleCookies said...
Nov. 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm
Hahaha! Thats what my little sis wants to be! :P
Hobbit@Heart said...
Nov. 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm
Great piece!  I know I want to write when I grow up, but when and where; I just don't know...
TwinklingTrinket said...
Nov. 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm
"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life."
Aspiringauhor replied...
Dec. 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm
John Lennon. I love that quote.
kairi.kaylyn said...
Nov. 17, 2011 at 10:09 am
It's true. We have to choose to make up our mind but who knows? Maybe our minds aren't made up. I wrote a forum "What does it mean to live?" and that kind of shapes into your article.
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