Thursday, July 8, 2010

What do you want to be when you grow up?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s a question that undoubtedly every person is asked at least once in their lifetime. When we are kids, the answer is simple: a superhero, a princess, etc. As we get a little older, the question takes on a new significance. We no longer answer what our hearts tell us to say, but rather, we ponder of what seems more appropriate and realistic to say. As a result, we end up answering with terms such as lawyers, doctors and teachers. Then, just when we get comfortable with the socially acceptable answers, we graduate college, and that simple question takes on a whole new meaning. Our answers are no longer just words and a hypothetical idea. Our answers must now be put into effect and ultimately become a reality.
The problem? How do we become our answers? Or better yet, how many of us actually want to be what we utilized as an answer for the past four years?

On May 15, 2010, Ursinus College finally forced me to leave and told me I had to join the real world. After that monumental yet earth-shattering day, I became a new member of the “unemployed college graduates” club. While I promote joining clubs and making new friends, I certainly do not wish anyone to have to stay in this club for too long. The countless days of searching through job site after job site can become, well, mentally exhausting. To this day, I cannot tell you the exact number of resumes and cover letters I had to edit and revise in order to “re-invent” myself for that particular job. As I became the perfect Administrative Assistant, Editor, Proofreader, or Human Resource Assistant, I could not help but think back to that ever-important question: What do I want to be when I grow up?

Do I really want to be these positions? I can tell you that Human Resource was my answer for the past two years. However, if I was on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and Regis asked me “Is that your final answer,” would I say yes?

This is where my frustration hits its peak. At the age of 22, I feel that we have the right to not completely know what we want to be. In a nutshell, my peers and I have yet to truly experience the real world, yet alone the professional workforce. Before you go ahead and question a new graduate about their future, try asking them what they are interested in instead. Chances are, they have a degree in a field of interest, but have no idea what they want to do with it yet. Who knows? You may even be able to help them figure that answer out.

Of course, I cannot speak on this issue without addressing the few lucky souls who know exactly what they want to do in life. These individuals received the education necessary to achieve their dream, to become the answer they’ve been giving for years. My hope for these special people is that they stick to what their hearts tell them to do and to not let others break their dreams. You want to be whatever you want to be for a reason. And you will succeed. No certification test, no professor, no CEO can ever tell you otherwise.

As for me, I’ve landed my first job working for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Is this the Human Resource answer that I gave two years ago? Absolutely not. Am I willing to give it a shot to see if it’s something I could become interested in? Positively. A part of me envies the children who answer with big eyes and even bigger hearts. While they may give answers that seem ridiculous to us, they have yet to have anyone influence their possibilities. Their answers are endless.

So you ask me, “Helen Ann, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Well, I don’t know what I want to be. I will explore my endless possibilities. And I’m ok with that.

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