Nearly everyone has been asked that question — usually starting in elementary school, if not sooner. Nearly everyone asks that question of themselves — sometimes regardless of age or the stage of their careers. Although there are probably exceptions, I suspect the answers almost always change.
As a kid who grew up in the midst of the space race in the 1960s, I wanted to become an astronaut. Who didn’t? Subsequently inspired by what I read about Isaac Newton and Marie Curie, I wanted to become a scientist and make important discoveries. Those of a certain age will remember the chemistry sets that used to come in metal boxes. I got one for Christmas. And a microscope, too.
Then I discovered something completely different. I took a part-time job in high school covering sports for my hometown newspaper and found out how much I enjoyed writing and reporting. I pursued computer science in college, but switched to journalism at the beginning of my sophomore year and fared considerably better — academically, thank goodness, but also personally.
Although I’m now past 60 years old, my vocational aspirations remain pliable. Every bit as pliable, I suppose, as my definition of what constitutes growing up. I’m still in love with journalism. But I still wonder what I’m going to be when I grow up.
Fighter pilot is probably no more a realistic goal at this point than lion tamer. Mountain climber sounds exciting, but also dangerous and, even more daunting, like a whole bunch of work. Still other possibilities come to mind. Maybe dive master? Leading scuba diving excursions through warm and clear water to tropical coral reefs seems like an enjoyable way to spend the workday.
If nothing else, I remain determined to change at least one of my job titles — from aspiring novelist to published novelist.
What do you want to be when you grow up?