What Should I Be When I Grow Up?

Many young people have come to me with this question, so I thought I’d give them my best advice.

Most situations look like this:

  1. You know what you want to be when you grow up.
  2. You think you know what you want to be when you grow up, but then you realize you were wrong (and that’s okay!).
  3. You have no clue and are freaking out. Is this you? :) Again this is still okay!

So maybe you are a high school student and you don’t know what you want to be “when you grow up.” That’s okay. Almost nobody does. In fact I know quite a few adults who still don’t. I was very lucky and knew I wanted to be a teacher from a very early age, but not everyone is so lucky and then some people who become teachers can’t find jobs. Life can be scary.

Start Here

First of all, please don’t ever completely grow up, keep your mind and heart young. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Find adults you respect and talk to them about their life and their choices — Learning from role models can help you and when you are talking to adults who you respect you can learn a lot through their experiences. Remember, all advice is autobiographical (including mine!), meaning that others can only tell you what they experience, which may be different from what you will. Also remember, the world is always changing.

Take leadership roles and own them — When there are opportunities to take leadership roles in school organizations and in the community, take them and throw yourself into them. You’ll be interacting with people, accomplishing tasks, taking on new projects and doing things that help your school and community. Don’t do these things for the resume building although they can help in this area, do them for the experiences and how they will change you as a person for the better.

Read a lot of books — Reading, increasing your vocabulary, and your ability to understand the written word will help you in whatever career you choose. This will maximize your ability to be successful. If you’re not reading much now, start with one book that you are really interested in and then work from there.

Your social media — Think about what you are posting. You don’t want to limit your future success and career opportunities because you have some awful stuff on your Twitter or Instagram accounts. That doesn’t mean you have to hide from these platforms. On the contrary, turn your social media accounts into places of positivity and fun. If someone is looking at your feed they will be excited about what an awesome, positive, and mature young person you are!

Shadow successful people — If you think you might like a certain career see if you can set up a job shadow. I’ve had students job shadow and hate everything about the experience. I tell them…this is the absolute best thing that could have happened because you know you don’t want to do this job now. You saved yourself 4–6 years of college and being miserable after that. OR you could find something you love and want to learn more about. :) How sweet would that be? Do most kids do this? No they don’t. But why would you ever want to be like “most kids?”

Surround yourself with awesome people — The people you are hanging out with should be good kids who are awesome. Shun the haters. They will drag you down. Keep people around you who are loyal to you, but not afraid to tell you when you are acting like a jerk. You need honesty, positivity, and awesomeness around you. Talk about life with your peers and what they want. Talk about your hopes and dreams. It’s fun to think about the future. :) Don’t forget to live in the present though. Go for ice cream.

Of course I don’t have all the answers. If you can pick one or two things from the list above and get started on them right away, it might help move you in the right direction. Who knows, you may find exactly what you are looking for, even though you didn’t know it was what you were looking for!

Know someone who is trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up? Please share this with them. :)

Originally published at mrneilhistory.wordpress.com.