Aptitude (or what I want to be when I grow up)

20130321-105850.jpgMy five year old wants to be a “screenwriter / race car driver / veterinarian” when he grows up. Not “or”, but “and”. When do we stop wanting to be everything, and start being one thing? What is it about our lives that teaches us to laser focus on that one thing that we’re expert in?

Youth development experts talk of developing “passion” in our children, and somehow this translates to developing the one thing our children can excel in. The college & career prep world uses surveys and questionnaires to help young people focus on what they can BE. They use complex logarithms to cross reference what you like with what you’re good at and who you are. The questions look something like this: “Do you like working with wood?” “Are you a problem solver?” “When working on a project, do you take charge?” Congratulations, you will be a FOREMAN. Simple… done… now get working on that.

I’ve wanted to be a Social Worker most of my life. Over time that has become something much broader than what the title suggests. I’ve become an organizer, a planner, an advocate, a cheerleader, a writer, a teacher, a leader, a mentor, a rabble rouser, a marketer, a public speaker. What links all of these roles is an overarching philosophy that came long before my formal education.

To do good in the world, to be honest, to support those who need support, to love, to empower others to do the same.

How do you quantify that on a survey? How do you put that on a resume? I’ve taught my students that they don’t need to know “what they want to do” until after college. But, maybe that’s short sighted. Maybe you don’t EVER need to know what you want to do. Maybe it’s more important to know “who you want to be”.

I want to be joyful and positive. I want to be strong and resilient. I want to be an agent for change. That’s what I want to be when I grow up.

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One thought on “Aptitude (or what I want to be when I grow up)

  1. I’ve been saying this for years – if the only answer that you have to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a profession, then you aren’t really thinking very hard.

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