When I Grow Up

From The Mind of a 48 Year Old

When I Grow Up…BOY is that a mouthful! But, it’s never too early or too late to think about your aspirations for the future.

When you think about the phrase “When I Grow Up”, it typically refers to transitioning into adulthood and pursuing your goals and dreams. However, there are those of us who have rebelled against the idea behind “When I Grow Up” mostly because we are kids at heart, not because we refuse to accept responsibilities. Still, if you are like me, you have likely pursued formal education, worked “jobs” and may have had somewhat of a career at some point. All of which left you feeling lacking something and not very successful at the “grow up” part. As if you knew there was something more out there for you but you couldn’t quite put your finger on it.

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Figuring It Out

I was in my late 20’s when I finally struck gold and knew what I wanted to do with my life. When I say late, pretty much 30, lol. I had gone to community college and dominated. Dean’s List, Student Government President, Chancellor’s award, you name it. It may have taken up five or six years of my life but still, they are all accomplishments that I am proud of. Toward the end of my tenure at college I realized I loved writing. Like really loved it. I always loved reading, as of right now I have over 3,000 (physical) books in my personal collection. Not joking. I also realized why I loved reading, because I loved the written word, which led to my realization that I, too, wanted to write books and be one of them…an author. Having that epiphany was the beginning. It was also the easy part.

This Is Where the Advice You Didn’t Ask For Begins

beautiful girl in white and yellow floral dress covering her face with her hand
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This brings me to the first piece of unsolicited advice on how to attempt to finish that phrase, “When I Grow Up”. Identify Your Passions and Interests: Take time to explore your passions and interests. What activities bring you joy and fulfillment? What subjects or hobbies make you excited to learn more? Identifying your passions can guide you towards a career or lifestyle that aligns with your interests. You can follow this link to a book that is actually published and hopefully gives you some more actionable advice.

So How Do I Achieve It

Well…I am still trying. I may not have reached the end of my “When I Grow Up” journey, not by a long shot. My wonderful Dad used to say this little nugget: “Make sure whatever you do in life, you love it. You spend a third of your life sleeping, one third of your life living, whether it’s recreation or chores, and you spend another third of it working. You damn well better make sure that third spent working is worth it.” I think he was right about that and a lot of other things. I think there is a multi-prong approach here and one way does not suit everyone, so keep that in mind as you continue to subject yourself to my unsolicited advice, lol. The “how” is really up to you. The biggest take away at this step is to at least identify what you love, have a passion for and wish to pursue.

Goals

Set Long-term Goals: Think about where you see yourself in the future. What do you want to achieve and experience in your personal and professional life? Setting long-term goals can provide direction and motivation to work towards your aspirations.

I know… I KNOW, this is the inevitable “Where do you see yourself in ten years” question. Yes, it’s daunting. I get it. But having some kind of plan will help keep your eyes on the prize, especially when you’re shoveling shit for a living. (I have absolutely nothing against anyone who does that for a living, just to be clear. Shit won’t shovel itself, there is plenty of it out there and it’s an honest living.) But during the times you find yourself doing jobs you don’t love, remember your goals, and remind yourself that what you are currently doing is a means to an end. Stay focused and positive.

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Experience, Schooling and Being an Unpaid Go-Getter

Don’t be afraid to go to school. (or back to school for that matter) My husband decided to take his MCAT’s in his early 30’s and is now a Family Medicine Doctor. He never intended on being a physician, not at first. He took the test on a whim and when he scored profoundly well, he realized in an awkward way, this was indeed his calling. While we both had a formal education, there is nothing like real life education. Life experience can never be duplicated in the classroom or some other artificial environment. It should also never be under-valued. There is nothing wrong with being the coffee-getting lackey if that’s what it takes to get your foot in the door. There have been times when I worked 2-3 different jobs simultaneously, like my stint as an unpaid research assistant for a professor.

Prioritize Education: Education plays a critical role in personal and professional development. Consider the type of education or training you may need to achieve your desired goals. Whether it’s pursuing higher education, attending vocational school, or seeking mentorship, continuous learning can open up opportunities and enhance your skills.

Gain Relevant Experience: Seek opportunities to gain practical experience in areas that interest you. This could include internships, part-time jobs, volunteering, or participating in extracurricular activities. Building a foundation of experiences can provide valuable insights and help shape your future endeavors.

Learning and Experience Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

Embrace Lifelong Learning: As we are growing up, we should try to embrace the idea of lifelong learning. The world is constantly evolving, and staying curious and adaptable will help us navigate challenges and seize new opportunities. This is what I mean when I talk about life experience. There is no substitute for it.

Foster Personal Growth: Personal growth and development are vital aspects of becoming the person you want to be. This can involve developing strong character traits, building resilience, embracing a positive mindset, and cultivating healthy relationships. I think this might be the most challenging part of the package, aside from self-reflection, see below. Honestly, I think it’s so easy to let ourselves become stagnant, especially when you’re just trying to pay the bills all the while remaining hopeful for the future.

Practice Self-reflection: Take time for self-reflection and introspection. Understand your values, strengths, and areas for growth. This self-awareness can help inform your decisions and shape your path forward. There was a time in my life when I honestly questioned who I was. I didn’t know. I had spent so much time trying to be something for others, whether it was the “perfect” girlfriend, wife, mother, sister, grandaughter, godaughter, daughter, etc., the list goes on for too long. Believe it or not, I am not much into being a people pleaser. What I am, is someone who struggles daily with living up to expectations, many of which are self imposed. So yes, KNOW THYSELF. If you don’t know who you are, start searching. It’s never too late for any of us to figure out that part.

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Remain Open

I don’t typically like surprises. Though I love rollercoasters. Luckily life provides us with both and everything in-between. So learn to roll with it. See where things you didn’t expect lead you. It might suck big time, or it may just be a blessing in disguise. One caveat: Always, listen to your gut. I couldn’t be more serious about that bit.

Stay Open to Opportunities: Life can present unexpected opportunities and detours along the way. Stay open-minded and adaptable, allowing yourself to explore different paths and be receptive to new experiences.

Seek Mentors and Role Models: Surround yourself with mentors and positive role models who can provide guidance, support, and inspiration as you navigate your journey. Learn from their experiences and seek their advice when needed.

I Am No Expert But…

Now that you have endured all of my aformentioned unsolicited advice, allow me to double down…”growing up” doesn’t have to suck, and we should still care for and nurture our inner child.

Someone said, “Life. Enjoy it because no-one gets out alive.” Someone also said, “Common Sense ain’t so common.” Take those little nuggets to heart along with everything else I have said. I don’t know how far this advice will take you, I suppose that is ultimately up to you. As for me, I plan to keep plugging along and striving for my happiness and yes, I suppose, keep pondering what it really means when I think of the phrase, “When I Grow Up”.

Enjoy the Present Moment: While it’s essential to plan for the future, remember to enjoy the present moment. Cherish your current experiences, friendships, and personal growth. The journey is just as valuable as the destination. During this whole process of growing up, remember, it doesn’t need to suck! Please don’t abandon that kid inside of you, it may very well be what leads you to a satisfying career and help you “grow up”.

Remember, the path to adulthood and achieving your dreams is unique to each individual. Embrace your individuality, stay true to yourself, and have confidence in your ability to shape a fulfilling future.

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