When I Grow Up…

July 23, 2010

Every once in a while, I’ll meet someone I went to high school with.

Usually, it’s a good meeting, if I don’t dive behind the display of Cheerios I’m standing next to in order to avoid them.  Usually if I stick around, I find the other person did something with their lives.  They turned out to be reasonably successful.  But every so often, I have to hold back the words, “What happened to you?” from popping out of my mouth.  Some people just took a…different path than I did.  Maybe they dropped out of high school and had twenty kids and got a tattoo on their face or something.  I always wondered what those people wanted to do with their lives back when we were in elementary school.  They probably didn’t want to drop out of school and have twenty kids.

But it made me think about myself.  I wanted to be a lot of things when I was a kid.  And I’m glad that for the most part, I did none of the things I dreamed of as an eight-year-old.  It made me think of all the dreams I had, and all the adults around me very kindly encouraged me in my dreams, as silly as they might have been.  I’m not so sure I would have been so encouraging to myself.  It kind of made me wonder what I’d say if I could give eight-year-old me a pep talk about career and life choices…

Matt Gives Himself Career Guidance

When I was six, I wanted to be my Dad.

Just about any kid wants to be like one of their parents, if their parents are worth emulating.  But, young Matthew, this is not a good life plan.  You’re dad’s a good guy and all, but in just a few years, he’ll become the biggest idiot on the planet in your eyes, and you’ll be too busy disappointing him to even remember that you ever wanted to be anything like him.  Just give it time, and in the meantime, find something else to dream about.

When I was ten, I wanted to build a spaceship.

Okay, I notice you don’t actually want to go into space.  I get it, you’re afraid of heights.  That’s cool.  Practicing up on your legos, I see.  What’s that you have there?  Oh, you wrote to NASA and they sent you a big packet of really cool stuff?  Neat-o.  But you know, building spaceships isn’t exactly a growth industry…yeah, they pretty much build a new spaceship about every twenty years.  Now, if you want a growth industry, you should get in on the ground floor of building high definition TV satellites.  That’s the brave new world you’re inheriting.

When I was fifteen, I wanted to be an artist.

Again, not a great way to make money.  Van Gogh never sold a single painting in his lifetime, and he was way better and crazier than you.  Look out the car window, Matthew.  See that “starving artist” sale in the Osco Drug parking lot?  Take a good hard look at that word “starving.”  Imagine the words “not showered” next to it too.

When I was sixteen, I didn’t care, I just wanted a girlfriend.

Get ready to wait a long time, hot shot.  By the way, have you decided to shower regularly again, Mr. Artist?  I won’t say that will help, because it won’t, but it can’t hurt.

When I was eighteen, I wanted to be an actor.

Let’s see, no talent: check.  No serious committment: check.  Extremely self-absorbed desire for attention: check.  Lucky for you, in a couple of years, there will be this new fad called “reality TV,” and you are eminently qualified.  If I were you, I’d get into a really dysfunctional relationship with a girl right now, get on fertility treatment and have a bunch of babies.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later when your family is the most famous trainwreck in the country.

When I was twenty, I wanted to be a preacher.

Well, I guess you’ve come around and you want to be like your old man again, huh.  Well, it’s better than your other choices up to this point.  Boy, you sure know how to pick the lucrative career paths, huh?  By the time you’re done with school, you will have the same number of years in school as a lawyer!  But I can’t even begin to tell you the spiritual changes this pursuit will bring you over the next few years.  I hope you’re prepared for it.  I hope you feel God is leading you on this, otherwise you will certainly fail.

When I was twenty-five, I wanted to be a teacher.

That’s cool, you want to be a pastor, and a teacher because you believe in being bi-vocational.  You’ve got down emulating Dad, so you might as well pursue your mother’s career path.  That’s funny.  I know everyone is saying that there’s a huge teacher shortage and they’re desperate to get people into the classrooms, but…that’s not really going to be the case by the time you’re done getting certified.  Something about the economy.  Just as long as you know that one un-lucrative career, plus another un-lucrative career does not equal one big lucrative career.

I tell people today that I’m really awesome at working, I’m just terrible at making money.  Plus I’ve got this blog, and some plans to go along with that, but there’s no money there either.  But at least I’m happy at what I’m doing, and I feel like God is too.  I have no idea what I’ll want to do in two years.  I’m glad I didn’t “follow my dreams” when I was eight years old the way everyone told me to.  I’m glad my dreams changed.

What did you want to be when you were eight?  Did you follow your dreams, or did your dreams change?  What would you say to eight-year-old you if you could give yourself a pep talk?

29 responses to When I Grow Up…

  1. At 8 my plan was to marry and have a family of 9 kids (so we could have enough for a whole baseball team), each with a pet of their own (because I really like animals). I even designed my the house I’d like one day but it would have to have a big backyard for all those kids to play in. Yup, my dream changed along the way!

  2. At 8 I wanted to be a Ghost Buster.

    At 10 I wanted to be an astronaut.

    At 16 I just wanted to go to the prom.

    At 20 I wanted to be a preacher.

    At 25 I wanted to own a restaurant.

    Today at 29, I want to be a writer. (I got an editing job, so I feel like I’m taking the right steps, maybe even turn my blog into a book.)


  3. Since at least the 4th grade (what’s that? 8? 10?), I’ve told people “I’m going to be the first woman on the Moon, you should get my autograph now.” At 34, I’m a successful “rocket scientist” (BS and MS in aerospace engineering) with one (unsuccessful) astronaut application under my belt. I’d still LOVE to go to the Moon or at least into space, but at this point in my life (especially given the current administration’s space “plans”), that is definitely the icing on an already rich cake. I’m a wife to a great husband, a mom to two awesome kids (that I get to stay home with most of the time as I only work part-time, mostly from home). We’ve got everything we need and then some. I’ve got opportunities to play and sing at my church and write (when I feel like it, which isn’t often lately – too much living to do) on my blog. Life is good. God is good! And I’m glad to have had this dream of mine for so long – even in the times when I’ve given it up to go overseas or put it on the backburner to have babies. It has definitely brought me to where I am today, and for that I am eternally grateful!

  4. When I was in second grade, my parents took me to (the now defunct) Marineland in southern California. I decided I wanted to be a marine biologist, and never wavered until my senior year in college, when I discovered I really didn’t like doing research. I ended up teaching high school science for a while, which was great. After a bunch of years as a full-time mom and part-time volunteer, I’m back exploring biology, this time as a nature photographer, writer, and speaker.

    I’m certainly not getting rich at this, but I couldn’t be happier. I think I’m doing exactly what God made me to do.

  5. When I was 8, I wanted to be a Broadway actress and a wife and mother. I pursued the acting career until I completely screwed up the audition for admission into a college acting program. So then I just wanted to be a wife and mother. I was a wife for a while but my husband decided he didn’t want to be married anymore.

    Now I’m 45…not a wife, not a mother, and only getting by financially. Today marks the end of one life and the start of a new one – today is the last day at my job. I quit so I can move to a new state, establish residency, and then go back to college in a year to pursue a degree in event planning.

    I still hope that I will be a wife and (step)mother someday. I am putting everything in God’s hands – I know that He will take me where He wants me to be.

    • That’s what it takes. We just had a going away party for a woman who wanted to get married 20 years ago. God has a way of bringing us to the places we want to be, just not always in the way we want to go. Stay optimistic in this new season of life.

  6. At age 4 i wanted to be a mama. (Not to emulate my mother, but because i thought i could do better.) I also wanted to be a nurse, to emulate my aunt.

    At age 9 i wanted to be a mama.

    At age 14 i wanted to be a mama.

    At age 18 i wanted to be a mama. Also a psychologist. But *gasp* i’d be 26 before i was done & able to work!

    At age 24 i wanted to be a mama, but it wasn’t happening so i was an office administrator. I hated it.

    At age 28 i went to school to become a psychologist. Only got half way there.

    At age 38 i went to school to be a massage therapist. Good job. I like it. Better than psychologist for me.

    I’m a mama now to 3 little ones in heaven. God has blessed me with a wonderful, loving, Godly husband.

  7. My late grandfather used to love playing a cassette tape of the four year old me doing play by play to a Pittsburgh Steelers football game on the television. I wanted to be on the radio and I ended up going to college to learn that and spent over two decades doing it.

    And it fed my ego, it led me into places where I was weak to give into temptation…and while some good things happened I have to be honest and say most of it was bad for me.

    Now I’m working in tech support for a computer company that designs software for radio stations. It’s a good job with a good boss but it’s not fulfilling.

    Honestly, I feel like I’ve wasted my life and there’s no way to redeem it. Geez, that’s depressing to write.

    However, I know God’s here and He’s going to do something with this mess. I guess if I could go back and talk to eight year old me…I’m tell him to focus on something other than radio. Use the intelligence he has for something other than his ego.

    • I know how you feel. I feel like I’ve taken so many detours and wasted so much time, and I just hope God can still do something with all of this. God works, but it requires a lot of patience and prayer on our part, I think. God is not nearly so impatient with his job as we often are with ours.

  8. I wanted to be a rock star. That’s pretty much the extent of my childhood dreams. Living out of hotel rooms and singing into scarf covered microphones.


  9. I wanted to be a singer and a writer. No one told me that either would take talent….

  10. Mostly I wanted to be rich. My avenue of choice was being a lawyer, and in my young brain, I had a back-up plan: If I can’t hack it as a lawyer, I’ll just be a cop. I am neither.

    When I was 15, I wanted to be the best youth pastor ever. I’m not that, either, but I am a youth pastor, at least.

  11. When I was very young I wanted to be a Kindergarten Teacher. In Jr. High I wanted to be a Stewardess, but I would never be home and how could I raise a family? So that was out. At 14 I wanted to be a model… but I enjoy food, so that was out. Then about my Jr. year in Hight School I felt the Lord touch my heart for ministry. Really, I knew it all along, I wanted to be a Pastor’s Wife. Who WANTS to be a pastor’s wife? I remember telling my guidance counselor that, and she didn’t quite know what to do with it. Now after 28 years of being a pastor’s wife, I could tell that young gal in high school what she needs to do… know how to do just about everything! So if you want to marry a pastor, then it’s off to Bible College. That’s not the only reason I went. I truly felt my own call to ministry, but knew I would marry a pastor and probably wouldn’t find him at some other school. I have a lot of passions, writing is one of them, teaching is another, but my heart is for our church. I love being a pastor’s wife. It has been sited as one of the hardest jobs, but I can not even imagine doing anything else. I know that this is what I was created for: to work side by side with my husband and love our people.

  12. When I was 8, I wanted to be a teacher. The LAST thing I wanted to be was a minister. I wanted to be a teacher until I was 21 and had my teaching degree. It was then that I thought, really for the rest of my life you want to teach about history???

    It took a while, before I was able to listen to the call that I was to be a minister who happened to teach. I have come to realize that my sermons are my teaching moments.

  13. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was 8, but then I saw a movie about astronauts and their training or something. They were spinning. I do NOT do spinning. So, I changed my mind. At 9, and ever since, I have wanted to be a doctor. I am currently chasing that dream. I am finishing up my last year of Undergrad and then applying to medical school…hopefully I’ll make it there. :)

  14. At 6 I just wanted to play with Matchbox cars and draw pictures.
    At 8 I got my first motorcycle and wanted to be a motocross racer.
    At 14 I started to race motocross, played varsity hockey, was winning NASTAR downhill skiing events was working in graphics and loved photography.

    Somewhere in there I got into drinking and drugging and by 22 I had no dreams left. I just wanted t be dead.

    But I got sober, went to college for music, then art, then Bible school, and later computer graphics and eventually software programming.

    At my 25th high school reunion no one would believe that I was still alive. One of the guys tried to talk my now wife out of being with me.

    In 1998 at 40 years old, I received a prophecy about going to the nations, writing, and prophetic ministry. Since then, that’s all I want to do when I grow up even though I make huge money as a software engineer.

  15. I wanted to be a teacher for a long time. I ended up becoming an engineer. Sometimes it can be pretty similar.

    Hah…showering definitely helps :)

  16. At 8 I wanted to be living in another family that was safer… sort of like a witness protection program for abused kids. I always had hope for a better life though… and was busy putting on shows for the other neighborhood kids… the shape of music to come.
    After that I wanted to be a variety of things including a vet, a teacher, a musician, a writer, a farmer or rancher… eventually I decided I would like to be a psychologist or sociologist. As a fluke I took a photo class in high school thinking it would be helpful for field studies etc.. It turned out I had a natural aptitude for photography. The next thing I know, in my late teens and early 20’s I was doing album covers and running a special effects camera and doing big media whop de dos… none of which was planned … none of which I had a good education for.
    In my 30’s I wanted to do more ministry so I spent a bunch of time working at various churches doing all sorts of stuff including leading worship, leading the kids ministry, running the bookstore, leading the (insert mind numbing useless time consuming activity here.) When I found myself having to try to get away from the church to do more real ministry I switched gears again. Now I teaching music full time. It’s been quite the amazing ride.
    What I didn’t see coming was my husband being too ill to work and me spending most of my 40’s and now the beginning of my 50’s struggling to make ends meet in the midst of a recession. Even still though I love God’s faithfulness to meet me in my music studio. Even though I normally have a 60 -70 hour workweek, more ministry happens there than ever happened before. I can tell it’s about time for another reinvention to help make it through the current economic times. I think now after all those experiences I can see the adventure in it. It’s so like God to get old guys to lead nations out of the wilderness to the promised land, and to make fishermen and tax collectors something else. With every career change, every different direction, I’ve met some amazing people and have had amazing experiences I would have never had otherwise. Launching out in new things can be scary but oh so worth it. These days I’m using all the stuff I’ve learned along the way to have a much more effective ministry, and a fuller life.

  17. I wanted to be teacher ever since I can remember playing. My dreams were not encouraged, they were actually discouraged by my family. Yet somehow I have ended up teaching preschool at a Christian daycare.

    I wanted to be wife and mother. I am a wife.

    I wanted to help others. It has taken me a long time but I am doing that through Celebrate Recovery, where I learned to take care of me first and deal with my own issues.

  18. 6- Fighter Pilot
    8- Aerospace Engineer
    22- College Professor
    23- High School Teacher
    28- Gifted Ed. Teacher/Central Office creature/Someone wonderful’s boyfriend… A guy can dream, eh? =\

  19. I was crazy when I was a kid. And it does scare me a little how weird I was.

    When I was eight, I wanted to be a pro-wrestler (snicker all you want on that one). I got caught up in the craze of the Hardy Boyz and Undertaker & Kane about that time and I got hooked on The Rock sometime after that. Obviously, that’s not going to happen for an assortment of reasons.

    I also wanted to eat spicy food. I ate one of the peppers you get with Papa John’s pizzas on a dare in the fourth grade and LOVED IT. Remember how I said I was crazy as a kid? This was a perfect example of why.

    I’ve changed my plans almost like I change my favorite breakfast cereal- often. I wanted to be a pharmacist, then an animal trainer, then a writer, then an actress, and then a travel agent (and that was in high school). I got my Associate’s in Travel and Tourism Management last year. I’m now going back to school again for an Associate’s in Pharmacy Technology because it’s not like travel is popular right now.

  20. At age 8 I wanted to pass the 3rd grade. I failed.
    At age 9 I wanted to pass the 3rd grade. I passed.

    Now I just want to be a more mature Christian man. Pass or fail I will give it my all.

  21. oh gosh. I wanted to be a waitress. or a “cash register lady.”

    My little sister wanted to be a stripper when she was like…7? She decided this after watching Independance Day and the girl is a stripper in the beginning of the movie.

    I am so glad God has other plans for both of us.

    • P.S. I don’t think my sister realized at that time WHY strippers have a job. She just thought dancing progressively nakeder looked like a cool job.

      Yes, I know nakeder isn’t a word.

    • That is pretty funny. I’ve never heard of a seven year old wanting to be a stripper. I can’t imagine what I would do if I had a seven year old who told me that was her life plan.

  22. When I was 8 I wanted to be a vet. Then I decided that I liked people better than animals.

    When I was 14 I wanted to be a doctor. Then I watched Scrubs and realized I would never have a family if I was a doctor (unless I did the whole fertility drug route and ended up like a certain family you may have mentioned above…)

    When I was 18 I wanted to be a journalist/sociologist/religion professor. Starting college makes you think you will do anything and everything. Then I realized that the media drives me nuts, I didn’t want to only do research my whole life in order to make any money, and I still liked medicine. Then I remembered all the mission trips I had been on to work with disabled kids and decided to become an occupational therapist. I’m about to start grad school for that in a week and a half.

    I think I did alright :-)

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