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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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Emilymadeline said...
today at 8:00 am
I think you have covered a great topic here. Many teenagers spend their time worrying about future occupations that are seen as suitable to others rather than themselves.
 
Josh27 said...
Apr. 1 at 10:29 am
That it's true happiness is always something for every when all the people need they try to look for it but when they cannot find happiness the people give up, but you can never give up always search for it.
 
CgreenThis 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. 3 at 7:28 pm
So much stress is put on teens to pick a "rational" job choice, without worrying about what makes them happy. A job is something that you have to drag yourself out of bed for, a true career is something that you enjoy doing.
 
ColdplayForeverThis 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...
Jan. 3 at 11:20 pm
"When I was five years old, my mother always told me 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 don, "Happy." They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life." -John Lennon Happiness truly is the key to life, so no matter what occupation you want to have, make sure that you are happy.
 
itsrainingcatsThis 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...
Apr. 18 at 8:14 pm
I thought of that when I read this XD. Great essay by the way.
 
ShadowboxerThis 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...
Dec. 30, 2015 at 12:07 pm
Great piece - lots of truth. However, is happiness always the destination? As a child, a lot of us achieve happiness in simple things, yet we still must "grow up" and start to change. If we achieve happiness as younger ones, why do we grow up to achieve other things and call it the pursuit of happiness? If happiness is the ultimate destination ("Happiness is a destination for everyone..."), why do our physical and emotional selves move on to things in the future past the happiness we experien... (more »)
 
Rehannah1 said...
Nov. 19, 2015 at 4:30 am
Thanks for this story because a lot of people go through challenges of picking their careers and dealing with the pressures of people's expectations
 
terialexander said...
Nov. 5, 2015 at 8:37 am
The line “But ­always remember, if you’re not happy, you’re not at the end of your journey yet” stands out to me the most. My parents always bother me about knowing what I want to do for the rest of my life but when i tell them they say I need a backup plan because it is not “realistic”. This line gives me confidence in my decision on what i want to do.
 
aoliver said...
Nov. 5, 2015 at 8:37 am
I like this story because it tells how people put pressure on us as teens about what we want to be. “So, the next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I will simply say “happy.” This is my favorite line in this story because that’s all I want when I grow up too, happiness.
 
abby.v said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 2:51 pm
I've always thought about what I've wanted to be when I grow up. I've always based my choices on whether I'll be good at the job, or if I'll get lots of money, or if I'll make people proud. "So, the next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I will simply say “happy"." This quote here changed my views on my own future. It made me realize that in the future, my priority is happiness. Not money, or love, or pleasing others. The writing is great, and it taught me an important lesson.
 
5MatthewJM said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 1:01 pm
I agree with this poem because it is well written and speaks the truth. When you said, “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?” I connected it to what I think about now and how I’m expected to know what I’m doing in life.
 
2cmakayla said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 9:59 am
“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?” is my favorite quote in this because it says exactly what is on my mind. I understand that kids should be thinking about their futures, but in my future all I want is happiness. I do... (more »)
 
Ty_M_Payne said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 9:05 am
I feel “when I grow up” was an inspirational speech it teach a lesson. Growing up is not what a person wants to be it’s about how a person wants to feel. A person can pick apples off a tree and still be happy about the type of job they have. A person can be sitting in an office with a paycheck that comes every week, its $1,000, and be miserable with the type of job.
 
breatapp1 said...
Nov. 3, 2015 at 9:01 pm
Ever since i was younger i was asked what i wanted to be .Every single time i answered with a different job some more realistic than the others.I would even get frustrated when other students were asked and they had one response.I would always ask myself why cant i choose one career like the them then i read this."Happiness is a destination for everyone" this quote explains it all,we are will pursue different things in life but with same purpose to be happy.
 
abby.v said...
Nov. 3, 2015 at 7:51 pm
I've always thought about what I've wanted to be when I grow up. I've always based my choices on whether I'll be good at the job, or if I'll get lots of money, or if I'll make people proud. "So, the next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I will simply say “happy"." This quote here changed my views on my own future. It made me realize that in the future, my priority is happiness. Not money, or love, or pleasing others. Your writing is great, and it taught me an important lesson.
 
Laurenboo99 said...
Nov. 3, 2015 at 6:39 pm
This poem is dear to me at this point in time because of how many parents and teachers ask me this revolving question "what do you wan to be when you grow up?" When people ask me this question I don't know what to exactly say like in the text, "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," I know what my heart wants however I also know what is a practical idea.
 
proud papa said...
Oct. 21, 2015 at 11:47 am
My darling daughter I'm so proud of you!
 
CDillon said...
Oct. 21, 2015 at 11:41 am
I love the way the imagination is brought to life in this story ! The details form a picture in my mind! Awesome job by such a young author!
 
aenakshi183 said...
Mar. 9, 2014 at 1:19 am
nice one i was happy when i read this sweet eaasy
 
Keenan22 said...
Feb. 11, 2014 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 »)
 
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