When I Grow Up | Teen Ink

When I Grow Up MAG

April 24, 2009
By Sara Dickinson BRONZE, Wyckoff, New Jersey
Sara Dickinson BRONZE, Wyckoff, New Jersey
2 articles 3 photos 3 comments

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.

Similar Articles


This article has 205 comments.

on Nov. 4 2015 at 9:05 am
Ty_M_Payne BRONZE, Plaquemine, Louisiana
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments
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.

on Nov. 3 2015 at 9:01 pm
breatapp1 BRONZE, White Castle, Louisiana
2 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It has been said time heals all wounds,i do not agree.the wounds remain ,in time the mind protecting its sanity covers it with scar tissue,and the pain lessons,but its never gone."

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 BRONZE said...
on Nov. 3 2015 at 7:51 pm
abby.v BRONZE, Plaquemine, Louisiana
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments
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.

on Nov. 3 2015 at 6:39 pm
Laurenboo99 BRONZE, Plaquemine, Louisiana
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments
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...
on Oct. 21 2015 at 11:47 am
My darling daughter I'm so proud of you!

CDillon said...
on 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!

inspired said...
on Jun. 26 2014 at 12:06 pm
ishi14 i completely agree with u and i am also suprisingly in 8th grade

aenakshi183 said...
on Mar. 9 2014 at 1:19 am
nice one i was happy when i read this sweet eaasy

on Feb. 11 2014 at 8:15 pm
Keenan22 BRONZE, Defiance, Ohio
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments
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.  Looking back at that now it seems unrealistic to the job I now want to pursue.  But you see that in everyone you meet.  99.99% of the time they did not follow the dream job they really had in mind when they were that five year old kid being asked what we wanted to do when we got older.

on Feb. 3 2014 at 12:47 am
Marissa Mojena BRONZE, Columbus, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 3 comments
I personally think that this article truly demonstrates one of the most important lessons in life that you could learn: money cannot buy you happiness. Even though you may have head this saying multiple times before, there is a difference between hearing it, and actually understanding what it means. This article captures that perfectly. I'll admit, many times I have wondered what careers I could do that offer a lot of money. I found that these careers can usually be found in the science and medical fields (doctors, surgeons, etc.). I then realized that I should be focused on not a career with a large salary, but rather one that makes me happy and that I will look forward to going to every morning. It actually turns out that I am interested in science and medicine as a future career, but I never forget the fact that I should be happy with what I pick in the end, no matter how much money is being offered. I feel that this article is a great representation of this, and it is very well written. (Sorry about the unfinished comment I posted before, I accidentally submitted it.) Great job!

on Feb. 3 2014 at 12:35 am
Marissa Mojena BRONZE, Columbus, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 3 comments
I personally think that this article truly demonstrates that money cannot buy happiness and it is very important to be happy and enjoy your future. If you are miserable, or just simply are not satisfied with what you are doing with your life then you should absolutely

on Feb. 1 2014 at 4:57 pm
liveloveskateee BRONZE, Columbus, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
This article is very well written and couldn't be more true! I often think about my future and different jobs, but I haven't found one that I can clearly say, "Yes this is what I was meant to do". As I continue to search for this one special job made for me, I will keep the thought of happiness in mind. As much as everyone wants to be successful and make lots of money, I have realized that money can't buy happiness. My parents have always told me that no matter what I do when I grow up, they will be proud of me as long as I am happy. Sometimes you have to take a step back and ask yourself if you really want to be doing what you are doing. If not, then you should try something different. When I choose a job, I will be certain I love to do it and that it makes me happy!

on Jan. 31 2014 at 2:38 pm
-Caroline BRONZE, Chesterfield, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
Love this article! In my career launch class this is exactly what we've been talking about- what do you want to be? Before any job or career, I just want to be happy and thats the most important thing!

on Jan. 31 2014 at 2:26 pm
Maaddiiee18 BRONZE, Wrightstown, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
I agree 100% with this!  When I was younger I always used to say that I was going to be an artist when I grew up, and now I can't draw at all!  What you said about your jouney isn't complete until you are completely happy stood out to me because I always believe this!

Ishi14 said...
on Dec. 18 2013 at 9:07 am
Friend, the thing you wrote is exactly what I think. 
Even I'm in 8th Std. and puzzled up for my future. 
I'm so worried that all my mates would have decided their career but I guess I'm the one who is still confused!

rheame said...
on Jul. 6 2013 at 10:53 am
rheame, Anand, Other
0 articles 0 photos 64 comments

Favorite Quote:
turn a mess into a lesson

a test into testimony

a trial into triumph
and a victim into champion

100% true!!!! and HAPPY eveyone!!!!!!!!!!!!

on Mar. 30 2013 at 10:58 pm
Ray--yo PLATINUM, Kathmandu, Other
43 articles 2 photos 581 comments

Favorite Quote:
God Makes No Mistakes. (Gaga?)
"I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right." -Liesel Meminger via Markus Zusac, "The Book Thief"

god!! i've been telling people 'happy' since quite a long time as well!! Even in my entrance exams, i fill out the forms with 'happy', for 'aim in life'!

on Mar. 13 2013 at 11:22 am
Sara Dickinson BRONZE, Wyckoff, New Jersey
2 articles 3 photos 3 comments
Thank you for your support! Four years later and I'm still writing! :)

on Jan. 3 2013 at 6:35 pm
Dominik-the-donkey BRONZE, Chesterfield, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 3 comments
I know exactly what you are talking about!  When I was younger life was so easy and I knew exactly what I wanted to do wether it was a painter or a astronaut or a pilot, but now that I'm in 8th grade so much has changed and I have absolutely 100% no clue what I want to do.  I think others might know more than me about myself! I feel so lost and I'm afraid that if I don't pick the right one then I will be stuck with it and won't be happy.

TaylorG BRONZE said...
on Jan. 3 2013 at 2:22 pm
TaylorG BRONZE, Columbus, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
i really agree with you that "happiness is a destination for everyone." All anyone really wants is to be in life is happy.