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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Madeleine J. said...
Oct. 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm
Very well done! You worked the narrative into the story well, it flowed, and was so true. Thanks for sharing your work!
Erecura replied...
Oct. 26, 2011 at 7:17 pm
Wow, i liked this. I have absolutely no idea what i want to be. i have wanted to be a veterinarian for ages, but now i dont know...
JillianNora said...
Oct. 26, 2011 at 7:59 am
I remember wanting to be a ballerina astronaut:) beautiful piece. Great job!
MoonFire said...
Oct. 26, 2011 at 7:35 am
i have wanted to be a cop for most of my life but now i have no idea. all i know is i want a family. maybe a writer, a nurse, or even an artist. we still have time to make up our minds.
Montserrat.Alvarenga said...
Oct. 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm
The essay flowed well in terms of ideas. The story at the begging not only made the story relatable but was the perfect introduction to her essay. Also, the topic she was writing about is something all teenagers are worried about. We are always being bombarded with the thought of growing up and the monumental decision we must make of what we will do once we are adults. I have had a lot of trouble deciding this myself but reading this has made me realize that I am not alone.
lzcelloplayer said...
Oct. 9, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I'm really happy that you wrote this. This makes me feel like it's okay to not know who you will want to be when you grow up yet. I still don't know. And I think it's also just about finding who you are, as you grow up. 

Congrats on getting it in the magazine! 


BeatleMania16 said...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 8:28 pm

i said i wanted to be a mommy

great writing!!

Rina-with-a-k said...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm

It's like a John Lennon qoute: 

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.

porybows This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I wanted to be a bunny.


Nicely done.

AddieDay said...
Sept. 12, 2011 at 9:00 pm
I love the way you capture the idea that it's ok to change your life's dreams--and how ridiculously we answered when we were little. When I was four, my cousin, whom I loved and tried to copy in all things, was in elementary school. My life's amibition was to go to elementary school myself. My parents will never stop teasing me, saying that I have already reached my life's goals. So yeah, we're all a little crazy at that age!
CupcakeSaffy said...
Sept. 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm
This was a brilliant piece. To my shame, my answer was much worse than yours. I was four, and I said I wanted to be an alien. No joke... And now, when I say I want to be a writer, people look at me as if that is just as ridiculous. It's awful being asked that question, "what do you want to be when you grow up?". I like and completely agree with your answer.
soldout replied...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm
That IS funny, bt don't feel bad. You're allowed to be wacky when you're little, it's practically a law! So, ok, the author of this piece? You're right! It's crazy that you wanted to work in a grocery store, and that as you get older there is more pressure on exactly what our life ambitions are. Some people have dreams from the beginning of their lives, others like you and me are still thinking about it. You're not alone in this, I can tell u that!
JusticeLiberty said...
Aug. 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm
I love this article! It really captures how you feel... and how a lot of teens out there feel as well! The last two paragraphs were so strong and so inspiring! Keep up the good work!
jesus_saves said...
Aug. 21, 2011 at 10:50 am
I like your article and I like where you were going. But the last 2 paragraphs cauhgt me off guard.  Do you think that life is all about being Happ?
Clear_Skies replied...
Aug. 21, 2011 at 11:59 am
Well, what's the point of life if you don't enjoy it? Why live when all you are going to do is try to be successful?
Sara D. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm
That was exactly the point I was trying to get across! Everyone wants happiness and success does not always give that to us.
jesus_saves replied...
Aug. 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm
Yes. I see what you mean, but don't you think the point of life is to live for Gods Glory?  Lets say I would be succsess ful if I corked for Coca Cola, but I really want to work for sonic cause it make me happy, but Jesus wants me to work at Target. I would work for Target because its what Jesus wants me to do.
Sara D. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm
Some people wouldn't agree with your views on God, or even the existence of a God, so that's up to each individual person.
Luz64 replied...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm
Isn't God all about love and being happy? God wants us to be happy. He would want you to do the thing that makes you happy. Just saying. :)
teeninkwasspilledhere replied...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm
Just to settle the argument right here, I think you all have different versions of what the word "happiness" means, and that's wonderful. Happiness is different for every person. The religious one becomes happy by doing jesus's will, which is great for him/her. The atheist has something else to bring him/her satisfaction...To each his own- different streaks for different freaks :)
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