What Did You Want to Be When You Grew up?

From a young age, it’s been drilled into us that we should follow one career path. That, somehow, by the end of high school, we needed to have worked out exactly what we wanted to be, how we’d go about achieving that goal, and then just go ahead and do it. But in a city like New York where people move from miles away just to pursue their dreams, I know that sometimes life is unpredictable. Just like NYC Talking editor, Angel Rodriguez, who juggles a full-time IT job with his music, poetry and writing, I believe that ‘one career’ doesn’t have to be the only way of life.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Since first being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, my answer has shifted from the arts to all forms of academia.

I grew up with a intense love for music – at the young age of 5, I already wanted to be a singer. This also lead to interests in song writing and poetry. At one stage, I also dreamt of being a school teacher: my sister would play the role of ‘student’ and I would give her questions to answer, it was always enjoyable for both of us.

Those short-lived dreams lasted until I reached the age of 11 and found that I had a talent for building websites. This was the first dream that I took seriously. I created and ran 25 websites on my own, won a couple of awards and was featured in a magazine. These were great achievements for a 14 year old: I was quite proud of myself.

For the next few years, I was adamant that my passion in life was to build websites: it combined my love of creativity with my love of computers. I’d mapped out exactly which universities I wanted to attend and what courses I would take.

Sometimes life just changes

But when I was in high school, aged 17 and studying for my exams, a friend of mine pulled me aside and said to me, rather bluntly:

“I know you’re great at building websites, but I don’t know if you should be doing this for a living. You’re great with people; I think you should study something like Psychology. I think a lot of people would benefit from your work.”

Hearing such a deep and thoughtful comment from my close friend got me thinking. Was he right? Was I wasting my talents when they could be better spent elsewhere? Was my ability to give others sound and thoughtful advice more than just that – advice? Was helping others with their emotional lives my gift?

How life is today

In the end, I did go on and study Psychology at university and I loved it. Although I ended up meeting my husband and putting my career on hold to have our children, my interest in emotional and mental health has not waned. I’m now currently working as a freelance writer and my dream is to one day be published in magazines like Psychology Today and Psychologies. I’m loving that I’m inspiring others with what I write.

I still love working on websites – that’s a passion that hasn’t faded either.

I still love to sing and I still love to write songs and poetry.

And my interest in being a teacher is still there – but that probably just comes from my love for children everywhere and my passion for giving all kids the best start in life.

Some of my passions may stay as hobbies, others may not. Only time will tell.

You can have more than one passion

Here in Australia, where I’m from, when an actor chooses to change careers and move into music, or a musician moves into acting, the person is ridiculed for using one industry to get into another. But I believe that we all have different types of talents and there’s nothing wrong with dipping our toes in here, dipping our toes in there.

We’ve all had different dreams at some stage. Some we never took seriously, others that meant the world to us and our future.

But who’s to say that you have to live your life with just one dream, with just one career, with just one goal?

Why can’t you be an IT worker like NYC Talking editor, Angel Rodriguez, who pursues his love for music and writing in his spare time?

Why can’t you be a stay at home mother like me, who juggles three children and a successful writing career?

Why is it considered impossible to achieve financial stability, while at the same time taking small, but meaningful steps towards another dream?

It may be difficult to do it all, but difficult does not mean impossible.

Maybe you don’t know what you want to be when you ‘grow up’, but try not to feel like you’re restricted to just the one choice.

Because you have many more choices than you believe.

(Editors note: This post hits home with me. Because to this day, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. So, I’m doing it all! ~ Angel Rodriguez)


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