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

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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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kikid94 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 6, 2010 at 5:14 pm
This is really good! I love it :)
fiftiesgal467 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 24, 2010 at 6:44 pm
Wow, very insightful and incredibly true!
Dominica said...
Dec. 23, 2009 at 8:50 am
I totally agree. I mean, I'm a senior about to head off to college and I still have no clue as to what I'm going to decide to be, I have a few ideas, but they haven't been narrowed down to just one as of yet.
vampzRfriendz said...
Dec. 22, 2009 at 5:56 pm
i agree,im 16 and even though i have a pretty good idea of what i want to be the question is how? how am i going to be this? everythings so hard in our teen years,they are our toughest years and we are expected to know exactly what we want and go for it. Our parents just dont understand that the pressure we go through these days are worse than they did its totally different
FOBlover replied...
May 29, 2011 at 8:15 am

I'm in 2nd year of secondary school about to go into 3rd year and my dad thinks it's outrageous that we, at 13, are being expected to know what we want to do when we are in our 30s 40s or 50s.

i am quite a hard headed person and already know what i want to do (forensic pathologist) but i sympathise with the many teens who don't know yet.

yelsse<3 said...
Dec. 20, 2009 at 10:59 pm
Nice very nice!(:
Nuwanda said...
Dec. 13, 2009 at 3:20 pm
I agree with you on this. I'm a 10th grader in high school and personally I have no clue what I want to be...sometime that drives my dad crazy every time he askes...but I'm 16 years old, things change, why should I worry about something that is going to change in a few years anyway.
Getting back to the point, I think you did a job of capturing a sitation a lot of teens find themselves in. :)
Ellie_Michelle said...
Dec. 13, 2009 at 12:49 am
That was a great article and it was very encouraging to know I'm not the only one who doesn't know what they want to be when they grow up!
Meljac12 said...
Dec. 6, 2009 at 2:53 pm
I sincerely hope you continue writing from the heart. This was very well written and relatable. You should be very proud of yourself. Thank you for writing this and who knows, maybe you have a career in writing. Hope to see your work published in the future.
emjay1216 said...
Nov. 6, 2009 at 2:52 pm
im crying now, ok? that was beautifully written. i want to be a juvenille defense attorney. but i never thought about just being happy.
thanks so much. i needed that
KonyaB!!! This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 13, 2009 at 4:24 pm
That really is the main thing everyone's worried about...what kind of a job you have and what you make. They think that the choices you make determines whether you are a smart, or dumb or not. They don't ever think that the choices are based on the happiness of that person.
Really good essay! More people should read it, and it has a strong and powerful messge in it...happiness.
Kristen H. said...
Aug. 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm
Actually, I just figured out what i want to be - an electrical engineer. Here I come, NASA!
Hawthorn replied...
Feb. 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm
N.A.S.A? Cool! I want to be either an astronaut or a writer. Or both.
hannah=(= said...
Aug. 2, 2009 at 2:14 am
There are just so many cool jobs out there. I can't pick only one to do for the rest of my life.
MangoMadness said...
Jul. 31, 2009 at 7:59 pm
I'm the opposite, sorta. When I was in preschool, up until about 4th grade, I had no clue what to be. I liked animals, so peole told me I should be a vet. But I had this thing about cutting up animals, or anything that helped them because it made me sad. I didn't know about as many jobs then as now. In fourth grade, when I started trying to write a kid story, I decided I wanted to be an author. I haven't changed my mind, but I've had ideas for others things I could do as well. Thank... (more »)
MszRAiNDROPsz said...
Jul. 24, 2009 at 2:55 am
i srsly dont knw wht i wnt to be either, nd ppl just expect u to knw frm an early age. this is so true
CSHLo said...
Jul. 23, 2009 at 8:09 pm
I love the line:
"Happiness is a destination for everyone"

Well written.
His-Bright-Green-Eyes... said...
Jul. 21, 2009 at 8:19 pm
Casey L. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 20, 2009 at 3:30 pm
Nice job!
This is something we can all relate to :-)
Ikutorocks12 said...
Jul. 6, 2009 at 6:57 pm
This is very good, and interesting. Right now someone I know is applying to university, so it got me thinking on my 'dream job'. But to be honest I have absolutely no idea! School is putting so much pressure on at the moment, and so I think focusing on being happy seems to be the best bet.
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