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.



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This article has 205 comments.


friday BRONZE said...
on Jan. 3 2013 at 2:12 pm
friday BRONZE, Columbus, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
I totally understand what you are trying to get across! I from now on say that I as well just want to be happy when I get older. I stil dont know what I want to be.  

sarahw123 said...
on Oct. 16 2012 at 8:49 pm
Last paragraph is beautifully written! The wait to be happy is always the worst. 

alepinklover said...
on Oct. 11 2012 at 2:11 pm
I agree with everything!!!! I am a true believer that you have to do something that makes me happy because I wouldn't want to be miserable my whole life doing something if i had the chance to do and be happy.

LunaLives GOLD said...
on Sep. 3 2012 at 1:49 pm
LunaLives GOLD, South Bend, Indiana
17 articles 0 photos 237 comments

Favorite Quote:
Because I can!-Me "Life is a choice and death is a decision"-Lil Wayne

I wish everyone could see the journey of life like you do. You're right. Happiness is the key.

AriShine GOLD said...
on Jul. 3 2012 at 10:07 pm
AriShine GOLD, Norcross, Georgia
13 articles 0 photos 131 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Whatever you are, be a good one." -Abraham Lincoln

This gave me shivers... "Happiness is a destination for everyone...if you're not happy, you're not at the end of your jouney yet." I will quote this! Words of wisdom! LOVE!

on Jun. 23 2012 at 10:25 pm
Pika_Princess, Escondido, California
0 articles 0 photos 118 comments
Beautifully written! This is definitely something I can relate to. And your answer is amazing and so true. 

Anni45 BRONZE said...
on May. 9 2012 at 7:16 pm
Anni45 BRONZE, Saint Paul, Minnesota
3 articles 0 photos 6 comments
I like this! I like the description of "the crayons dancing across the paper" and how you will say, the next time someone asks, that you want to be happy. I have never thought about it before, but I love your response.

on Apr. 28 2012 at 2:51 pm
i_am_so_very_large_and_towering SILVER, Mililani, Hawaii
5 articles 1 photo 114 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"

wonderful article!

on Apr. 14 2012 at 11:05 pm
dancegirl13 BRONZE, Roslyn, Washington
1 article 0 photos 26 comments
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?

on Apr. 14 2012 at 11:01 pm
dancegirl13 BRONZE, Roslyn, Washington
1 article 0 photos 26 comments
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.

on Apr. 14 2012 at 11:01 pm
dancegirl13 BRONZE, Roslyn, Washington
1 article 0 photos 26 comments
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.

TaurusGal GOLD said...
on Mar. 19 2012 at 12:47 pm
TaurusGal GOLD, Hong Kong, Other
13 articles 25 photos 110 comments
"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.

123Sesame said...
on Feb. 27 2012 at 7:23 pm
123Sesame, New York, New York
0 articles 0 photos 36 comments
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 and ask yourself: Am I happy with this? Am I happy?

123Sesame said...
on Feb. 27 2012 at 7:01 pm
123Sesame, New York, New York
0 articles 0 photos 36 comments
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.

KatsK DIAMOND said...
on Feb. 19 2012 at 8:32 pm
KatsK DIAMOND, Saint Paul, Minnesota
57 articles 0 photos 303 comments

Favorite Quote:
Being inexhaustible, life and nature are a constant stimulus for a creative mind.
~Hans Hofmann
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
~Ray Bradbury

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

abbyb13 said...
on 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 :)

Becca17 GOLD said...
on Feb. 13 2012 at 7:55 pm
Becca17 GOLD, Belleville Ontario, Other
10 articles 0 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Seven Deadly Sins:
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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 :)

abbybowman said...
on 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.

abbybowman said...
on 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.

on 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 throat. Trust me ! I thought I had my decision made up early too but, once you grow older and you realize things aren't so bright after all in the real world, you'll know. Not trying to scare you but, Fairy Tales are fiction. Things just don't fall into place that easy and everyone lives happily ever after.