Who Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?

Yesterday, when chatting with some friends during a lunch cookout, we found ourselves reminiscing about our college days and what we would do if given a chance for do-overs.  One person volunteered that she’d go back to college and switch her major from business management to interior design.  She added she would also wild out more because she knows—in the scheme of life—she’ll end up okay.  I suppose if the newer wild moments don’t involve serious injury or jail time, then she’s right. 

Another lady noted she’d swap out the accounting focus for physical therapy and maybe massage therapy tossed in for sport.  Then a guy volunteered, with almost a whisper of defeat, that he hated every bit of his college experience and would go back to change it all, including selecting a different school.  His new career would be something with science. 

This got me wondering if any of us are who or what we envisioned we would be?

My initial high school dream was to be the next Debbie Allen.  Hey are you laughing?  Since I was a child during the whole Fame and Flashdance era, what do you expect?  I spent those four years immersed in all things theater and remember masterfully tricking convincing my parents to drive to New York City to get a tour of NYU. 

My 17 year-old self figured double majoring in performing arts and English then graduating to the life of a starving artist would be cool.  The parents didn’t agree and when we returned home, my mother killed the dream by telling me to not even bother spending the application fee because I would not be going.

Flash forward two decades.  My first work life was in marketing communications where I did research analysis and wrote proposals to win clients.  I’m now in a second career as a business training and development manager.  No telling what the next 20 years will bring. 

So tell me, if you could, would you go back and redo the college years?

Are you now on your second, third or fourth career?

Is there a dream job you still have your heart set on evolving into?

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39 Responses to Who Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?

  1. Well, I’m not that far out of college, so I don’t think I can say whether or not I’d go back and change anything. After graduating from my university, I did wonder whether it was all worth the student loans I now have to repay, but I think it was. I think I learned more outside the classroom than in it. And even though I got my degree in English, I immediately applied to another program to become an interpreter.

    It seems like most people don’t end up directly where they were headed, but I do think all the detours along the way do help prepare us for where we eventually end up. 🙂

    • I love how you put that Angela! The detours, at least for me, are like life bootcamp. And that “was it worth it” feeling sometimes likes to pair itself with “what do I do now.” Thanks for commenting.

  2. Hartford says:

    I am pretty pleased with my degree in journalism and the career aspirations I’ve attained. They are pretty close to what I wanted and envisioned for my life at the time. Part of me does wish I would have continued on with my instinct to go to law school after getting my degree. It was the idea of working and $$$ that won out. Dang! But I’ve enjoyed the last 12 years! Although I won’t lie…I am feeling the urge for a new career. LOL. I’ve been thinking that I may go for that law degree yet. It’s never too late, right?

    • Wow, way cool! It sounds like you had a pretty good read of yourself back then. It is not too late to get the law degree Natalie! You could even spin it into something that can expand and work along with your career now. I’ve got this thing for lifelong learning and can totally relate. 🙂

  3. I would like to go major in biology–somewhere away from my family. But then, I might not have my precious daughters and grandbabies. So, maybe I’ll just take things as they are.

    THought provoking post. 🙂

  4. Hi Barbara- I don’t want a redo of my college years (although I wouldn’t mind a dose of that carefree feeling from those days!). I still have a lot of career ideas, but I figure maybe I will get to research them and use them in my writing!
    Nice post!

  5. If I could do college over I think I would have been an English/Journalism major. I toyed switching midway through but was talked out of it by well meaning friends and family. I wasn’t brave enough to buck the system back then. Good post!

    • Yes, Kate, that bravery to buck parents, friends and advisors is hard to do. And opting to do it midstream with other credits completed, cost and time can become a factor. I once heard someone say that people shouldn’t be able to go to college until experiencing life…like two years post high school and in the real world working. The idea is to allow for growth and more perspective on what they may like to do. Thanks for joining in and commenting!

  6. Michael says:

    I bounced around majors in college but have been employed in the major I finally settled on for the last 15 years. So, in the end, I have to say that college worked out while for me.

    What I would like to be able to go back and do is tell 18-year-old me to KEEP WRITING. But, can’t change the past…

    I’d still love to have a job where I could set my own hours and didn’t have any office other than whatever I chose it to be. Maybe someday!

    • Michael, I’m with you on telling the 18 year-old self to keep writing! Oh the lost years.

      Good to hear your major hopping brought you to a fulfilling place. And having that freedom to work from anywhere (hello, beach or café over here) would rock. Thanks for stopping by and joining in the dialogue.

  7. I didn’t go to college. I wanted to take a year break and contemplate what I wanted out of life. One month of living on my own I met my husband. We became engaged soon after. Since we separated this summer I thought back about doing it over if I could. I put a lot of dreams on hold to be a stay at home mom and wife to a husband who was never home.
    I thought about all the wild oats I didn’t sew and how I’ve been itching for a moment of spontiety. But then I wouldn’t have all the bumps, bruises and scars from the crazy ride life has given me and without those imperfections I wouldn’t be me. And I might not have my kids. So instead I’m starting over now and keeping all the good that came from the not so good. 😉
    Whew! I got pretty deep there! Lol! I just put up a post today similar to your question, sorry about the emo tmi!
    By the way, I’m in your Horror and Thriller group. ☺

    • Hi Amanda! Shout out to the #writecampaign. You have a way creative blog background design. I am also an embracer of strange things. 🙂

      No TMI apologies needed. Separations in life are hard and I can only imagine (not being married, but bearing witness on my parents’ divorce) how painful seeing the possible end of a marriage can be. I love your reflection on the good moments and pieces that you do have and the positive spirit of starting over. All good!

  8. Jillian Dodd - Glitter, Bliss and Perfect Chaos says:

    I loved college and actually loved my major. I have a BS in Textiles, Clothing, and Design, with minors in Marketing and Chemistry. I worked mostly in retail, managing stores, owned a clothing store, was a buyer for clothing and then housewares and gourmet foods. Then I switched and sold housewares to buyers. All the jobs I’ve had were mostly fun, looking back on them. About six years ago, I started writing. I don’t know why I never considered that as a career, mostly because it was always something I just did for fun, for me. Now as I’m older, I find myself doing more for me. Painting, writing, decorating. I think you can always change what you do as you grow as a person. For me it was growing the confidence to feel like I could succeed at various endeavors.

    • You are dead-on about the need for growing confidence Jillian. I love your background and it sounds like through it, you’ve had some great opportunities for creativity. And of course your “doing more for” focus, including the new blog, now rocks! Thanks for commenting!

  9. I did things a little differently than most. I worked, travelled, got married, divorced, married, divorced, married again before I got my degree. I would’ve double majored in Literature & Writing and also History, but my son decided I needed another baby and I had to cut the History degree.

    When I was little, I wanted to be a writer. In my 20’s, I told people I wanted to be a writer and a friend of mine said, ‘just tell people you ARE a writer and be that.’ It hit me then that to be a writer I had to write. Duh. Not just put words on paper every now and then.

    It wasn’t until I met my soulmate and third husband that I had the encouragement to follow my dreams.

    Like Amanda, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe that one guy back in ’81, but nothing else. I love my life just as it is, craziness and all.

    • Ha ha ha Tameri! I’ll add a few guys to the change/undo list. :-0

      The “being a writer” aspect was a mindset change for me too. I’d call myself aspiring or babble about my day work and then as an aside say I wrote. It was relegated to a hobby corner until someone told me how much I light up when talking about my writing. Like I’m good at the other stuff, but writing is where my passion lies. Once I embraced that yes I am a writer, it changed everything.

  10. Lesann says:

    I’d do college all over again, the same way. Each time. I’ve been through more than once. If I go again, my husband has requested I “quit messing around and just get the damn Phd”. LOL

    He has a good point. I’ve accumulated a lot of college over the years, I’ve worked in higher education for almost 20 years and conducted field work for almost 25 years. Good grief. I feel old.

    It’s NEVER too late to try something new. I learned that from a student in one of the first classes I ever taught. Addie graduated college at the age of 82. She’s a smart cookie. I wanna be like her when I grow up.

    • Lesann, it sounds like you are a lifelong learner. Love it! Are you taking courses for enrichment or more concentrated area coursework? I’m with you on being like the 82 year-old when I grow up.

  11. Elena Aitken says:

    Oh…if I could do it over again. I have NO idea what I’d do. I have a degree in Marketing and one in Psych.
    I’ve always thought I’d be a good therapist. BUT…
    honestly, I’ll be happy when I make a living at writing. I know…cop out answer. But it’s the only thing I really want to do when I grow up. 🙂

    • I so understand that Elena! It is about where your true passion is. I always say if I could remember to play the big lottery and then win millions, I’d go write. No massive spending sprees, no crazy relocation. Just the opportunity to clear the decks and write.

  12. My first degree was in General Arts (but really I majored in socializing in the dorm, listening to the Beatles, the Stones and Bob Dylan, and fraternity parties … it was the ’60’s, after all). Next I was a stay-at-home mom,community volunteer, and supportive corporate wife, loving the life in every way, until I was widowed in my 40’s. (A devastating loss that was, without question, my most important learning experience.) I went back to university, received a degree in Education and taught elementary school (loved every minute of that too) but just for a few years until I met my second husband and gained a large blended family (yup, loving that as well …). Last year at 65 I published my first novel. I think this is what I really want to do when I grow up! Pardon me for sounding what some may consider trite, but I really follow the “it’s not the destination but the journey” school of thought. Carpe diem!

    • Heh heh Patricia! We majored in socializing, dancing and parties in the ‘90s as well. Thank goodness I had a measure of self-direction to get me graduated.

      Your focus on the journey isn’t trite. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your life background. There is an amazing mix of tragedy, growth, reinvention and love. And publishing your first novel last year is YEA! I’ve beaten myself up for losing focus and time from my writing over the years so your success is inspiring. Carpe diem indeed! 🙂

  13. This is my lifetime to grow up!

    In the 50’s, being raised in a very loving home but a male chauvinistic atmosphere, as the only girl I was taught to attend college to get something to fall back on if something happened to my one day husband. My father would not support a career in a “man’s” field, so I drifted into nursing … a free all expenses paid education.

    The fit was not good. My talents lay in trouble shooting and organization for efficiency, but with a one track mind, I needed a desk and a “do list.”

    Looking back, would I change anything? No, because every experience of my life has taught me good things. My career morphed into nursing home staff teaching & administration and human resources, good fits for me. My current career is “writer”. I have studied writing craft for 5 years, and practiced on two manuscripts, now am working on #3.

    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing Marion! How awful to be pigeonholed into a career. I’m glad you were able to transition the original limiting job into one that was a better fit. And I love even more that you now have the time to focus on your writing.

  14. Hi Barbara!

    When I was a kid, I just wanted to go to college and be a career woman. I watched The Mary Tyler Moore show and lusted after her clothes and apartment. My parents were both science majors and had high hopes for me to follow in their footsteps. I wanted to major in history and go to culinary school. That wasn’t an option. Ended up being an Econ major. I worked as a transportation broker for many years, but felt creatively stifled. I write full-time now and count my blessings.

    • Your parents sound a bit like mine (a science and a math major). Those were my two worst subjects, so following in their footsteps would have been a disaster. They were also so focused on practical education to get a job vs. taking classes for the fun of it. Love that your next career now is the full-time focus on writing. Thanks for commenting!

  15. Melissa says:

    I have a bachelors in marketing and into bus. and a law degree. I just entered my 30s and am on my THIRD career. This economy has basically put many of us (including the highly educated, I mean, overly indebted) in survival mode and frankly my degrees are pretty useless. If I could go back I wouldn’t have gone to NYU – I would have taken that spot at Williams and majored in English or done something more creative than take Adv Calculus and Statistical Regression Analysis. I def regret spending money on the law degree. I’ve gone back to my first love, writing, and it wasn’t until a writer I greatly respect and admired introduced me as a writer that I ever considered myself one. Anyhow, can’t live in the past or with regret – gotta keep moving fwd 🙂

  16. Jenny Hansen says:

    Hey, Barbara!

    As a child, I figured I’d be a stewardess (yep, that’s what they called them then) or a beautician (we’d say Stylist now). I wanted to combine the two if at all possible.

    By high school, I got bit by the medical/physiology bug and I always loved to write. I was a biology major when i started college at 17 and wanted to minor in journalism. looking back, I wish I’d waited a year or two to attend college. It was all such a rushed time.

    I ended up hating journalism and veins creeped me out. Chemistry about killed me. I switched to Psychology and, after school (where I took not one single computer class) discovered that I have an affinity for software. I’ve been an applications trainer for about 16 years now and I love it. 🙂

  17. Suma says:

    Hello Barbara
    I came across your blog from Diana Murdock’s tweet.

    What a lovely post. You take me back to my past and all my growing up years. I wanted to be a teacher when in school, in college, I wanted to be a software engineer, then I wanted to be an HR Generalist, then an HR Specialist. All along, I wanted to be a poet and writer, but this always took the back seat until now. I realize that every time I took up something new, I became a child again.
    Thanks for sharing Barbara.

    Best,
    Suma.

    • Thanks for stopping by Suma! Great to meet you. Sometimes finding the “right” fit is an ongoing process as is balance. My world opened up so much more when I reached back and integrated my writing life. I hope you have been able to do the same.

  18. Rebekah Loper says:

    Hi there, finally stopping by from the campaign – we’re in atmleast one group together, but don’t ask me which one, lol!

    Ah, growing up . . . If I’m only 26, do I qualify to respond to this entry? I haven’t finished my first round of college yet, because I waited three years after high school to start because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’m planning to eventually finish my associates degree in English, I’d love to get a bachelors in creative writing, but I’m in no rush right now. I don’t have to have a degree to write books, after all!

    I’ve always wanted to tell stories since I was a little girl, it just took me a while to figure out that I wanted to be a writer!

    If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I was six, though, I would have told you that I was going go be a mommy elephant.

    • A mommy elephant. I love it Rebekah! Of course you can join in at 26. Though *cough* a few years away, I still feel 25 in spirit. 🙂 Those were great years, so enjoy.

      You waiting to start college a little later is something I toyed with doing. I remember telling my mom that I would just take a year off after she squashed my theater plans. LOL. Yeah, that didn’t turn out to be an option so down the highway we went. If getting that bachelor in writing is what you want to do, hang on and do it. You can then spin it into whatever you want. If you want to go for another degree that works as well. We writers are a diverse crew.

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  21. J H says:

    Hi Barbara, Great question. I worked full time while in college even though I didn’t need to. The military was paying for my education and my adviser was a young Marine captain. He joked that I was the only college student that he had that needed to learn to drink a little and work less. If the clock were rolled back I would not have worked so hard while in college. I would have enjoyed my education more. I remember seeing all those advertisements posted in the student union building and on all the available message spaces calling students to attend dances, concerts, lectures and various cultural events. Like an idiot I ignored most of them and dutifully went to my demanding job after classes.

    As for my career, I continued on to do precisely what I had always wanted to do. I once joked with my wife that if I had it all to do over again I might work as a “personal assistant” to wealthy women. She answered with “It’s never too late. I get %60 and they handle your laundry from now on…if she looks like Teresa Hines you can keep %60 and I get %40.”

    A few times I have fantasized that in a better world I would have moved to the mid-west and run a farm outside of a peacefully happy town called “Normalville” in Nice People County. There would be one town doctor and he would be bored for lack of work. We would hire the town half wit to be the policeman and he would watch T V in his office all day and would behave precisely as the mayor told him to. The county social worker would also be bored from lack of work and she would spend half her day watching TV with the town half wit. If trouble came to town my neighbors and I would quietly take care of it and then we would have the half wit file some paper work. Then we would all go home and eat the apple pie that our wives had made for us.

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