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 178 comments. Post your own!

wishingtheskywasbluerThis 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...
Apr. 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm:
wonderful article!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
TaurusGal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm:
"But ­always remember, if you’re not happy, you’re not at the end of your journey yet." That's so true. Truly deep and meaningful.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
NighttimeVesper said...
Feb. 27, 2012 at 7:01 pm:
This article is full of truth! No one's future is certain. It's your life. You should do what gives you happiness--real happiness.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
abbyb13 said...
Feb. 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm:
I absolutely agree with the comment below. I also agree with this article. I definitely feel where you're coming from, and I think uncertainty is what makes life exciting. Good luck :)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Becca17 said...
Feb. 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm:
Reminds me of a John Lennon quote: "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 question, and I told them they didn't understand life." You're a great writer, if that's what you enjoy I think you'd be perfect at it :P :)
 
KatsviewThis 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. replied...
Feb. 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm :
I agree. Personally, I want to be a writer, because that's what I love to do, but right now it doesn't really matter that much, and right now, I'm happy. so there :P
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
abbybowman said...
Feb. 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm:
I definitely agree with what the author is saying. I am in high school and I don't know what I am doing with my future, either.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
abbybowman said...
Feb. 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm:
I am in high school, and I still am uncertain about my future. However, I think that that is what keeps things exciting. If everything was handed to us wrapped in a big bow, we wouldn't ever grow as people. Making our own good (and bad) decisions is what shapes our character.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
fullylakai123 said...
Feb. 6, 2012 at 10:24 pm:
@Kiersten H. Just because you've made a decision on what you want to be when you grow up so early, it doesn't mean that you'll have the same interest 20 years later. 50% of people that go to college end up HATING the major they've chosen. 1 reason is because college is not as easy & sweet as they viewed it to be. There are some complications. Once you've made it AT LEAST to 11th grade, you'll know what I am talking about because that is when the reality of college starts getting shoved down your... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
bennyB said...
Jan. 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm:
I understand what what the writer is going though and I feel the same way
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
SingingIsMyLife said...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm:
some things that will look good on a college application: -R.O.G.A.T.E. -volunteer work -Girl scouts/boy scouts -having a job or work experience Do something good for society on Martin Luther King Jr. day!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
purpleyobes said...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 7:17 am:
I disagree with you by high school you should know what your doing in life. The comment made by Kiersten H. Is a good way to get back on track. Do what the comment says and you should find your way. So like Kiersten H. said good luck honey your gonna need some.
 
dancegirl13 replied...
Apr. 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm :
Barely anyone ends up doing what they 'know' they're going to do in life when they are young. How could you possibly know what the author's 'way' is, anyway?
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
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.
 
bennyB replied...
Jan. 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm :
I am going to have to disagree with you becasue I am now in the 11th grade and I still do nto know what I want to do
 
NighttimeVesper replied...
Feb. 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm :
I remeber being in 8th grade... when I thought I had everything worked out, and when I had all the answers. I thought I knew what I was going to be when I grew up, and what I was going to major in in college, but that changed.  It may change for you too, or it might not change. No one's future is certain and everybody is different. However, I think it's great that you are working hard towards your goal! If you really enjoy something, you should pursue it! Once in a while though, stop... (more »)
 
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.
 
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.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
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.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback