I read an article on the NYTimes Stop Asking Kids What They Want To Be When They Grow Up. Instead, ask them who they want to be. I can’t agree more. When we ask kids what they want to be when they grow up it makes life seem like their self worth is tied into what they do for a living. Like, if you’re a janitor or work at McDonalds then you’re a loser because nobody says that’s what they want to do when they grow up.
Instead, asking kids what type of person they want to be allows them to look at their character as success rather than occupation titles and salaries as success. Your occupation is merely your resource to pay bills. It doesn’t have to describe your self worth. I’m a United States Soldier. That doesn’t mean that my self worth is summed up to sacrificing my freedom for others. I’m a writer, gamer, Church member, husband, brother, son, photographer. Fighting the nation’s wars is how I feed my family, but Cameron Armstrong is so much more.
There’s no point in asking a child what they want to be when they grow up because it may not matter. What matters is whether they have the resources to do what they want to do. Most adults don’t end up being what they aspired to do as a child either because their childhood dreams were just what they thought was cool at the time, their desires changed, or they came to realization that they didn’t have the skills or resources to achieve what they wanted to do as a child.
Now, I don’t want to be discouraging. Some people are capable of achieving their childhood dreams. As a kid, Bryce Harper told his farther that he would be the MLB’s #1 draft pick. Harper became the first overall selection in the 2010 MLB draft.
For some kids, it’s obvious that they’re destined to become great at one thing. Like how Michael Jackson is great at singing and dancing, Michael Jordan is great at basketball. But most people are not great at just one thing and don’t want to be. Most people have multiple things that they want to do in life even if some of those dreams are not reliable to live off.
When people asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up I thought of a single career path like a Cop, Athlete, Teacher. Asking teens what type of person they want to be allows them to broaden their opportunities like if they want to be someone who heals people they can look at being a doctor, psychiatrist, Nurse, Yoga teacher. If they want to be someone who protects people they can consider being a Soldier, police officer, child protective services, defense attorney, etc.
If one kid says they want to be a teacher and the kid next to them say they want to be an astronaut, then that makes it seem like that latter kid is smarter and overall better just because they have higher occupation goals. Well, what if that kid grows up to be an astronaut but is also a racist. And the other kid grows up to be a high school teacher and helps many teens who come to high school with little motivation for education and lead them to become college graduates.
Look at President Donald Trump. He’s has one of the most honorable positions an American citizen can have by being the President of the United States. Occupation wise, he’s a really great man. But looking at the type of person he is is embarrassing.
When I graduated college I wasn’t thinking about the type of person I want to be. I was just thinking that I need to find a job that is fitting for a college graduate. I had aspirations to work in Human Resources just because it’s a desk job and I can wear suits to work and look professional. But, dealing with people’s problems is not my passion. I hate how much attention to detail is required in Human Resources.
I thought about working at Target because I liked the company and I felt like I would have a passion for growing in the company. But I let my insecurities define who I am by my occupation and I didn’t want to be a college graduate working as a team member at Target.