What do you want to be when you grow up?
Have you ever been asked this question? Do you remember how old you were when you got asked it? Did you have an answer for it, or was it a question that caused you anxiety or a little bit of stress?
This is a question I have hated all my life, simply because I had no answer to it. I didn’t grow up knowing I wanted to be a ballerina, a doctor or a firefighter. I wanted to travel, to explore the world and create an impact in people’s lives. Every time someone asked what I wanted to be, I felt pressure to put a label on myself and define myself with a simple profession others would understand.
Luckily I found I was not the only one. Watch this TEDTalk for more, but recently when I gave a talk at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh and I asked them this question, many of the students felt the same. The old paradigms of work, career and professions are shifting and no longer is a career path a straight upward trajectory. No longer is one same profession held for an entire career and diverse skill sets across multiple industries is becoming the norm.
So maybe this question needs to change also. Instead of asking what do you want to be — ask instead who do you want to be?