What do you want to be when you grow up?

I was babysitting for my neighbor’s kids the other day and as she got home, she asked me if I had picked my major for school. When I told her chemical engineering, her jaw almost dropped. When she finally spoke and asked why, I told her it’s because I’ve always been good with math and science and I’ll get a job easily. She then asked me if I enjoyed it. All of my extracurriculars had involved the things I liked doing (photography, writing, design, leadership) , not what I was known to be best at (math and science). So, what do I really want to be when I grow up?

We all can recall the first time we heard this question. When our teachers asked us this question, our eager 5 and 6-year-old faces lit up as boys shouted president and firefighter and girls exclaimed princess and nurse.

Sadly, I haven’t been asked what I want to do with my life recently. People just assume I will do something in the math and science field or something international (I’ve taken spanish since I was in 5th grade) because these are things I have always been known for excelling at.

In the past 3 years, no one has asked me what I want to do with my life. My aunt and uncle are both engineers, and have instilled the notion that being an engineer is the best thing for me to do because I’m good at math and science and can make a ton of money. One of their friends told their children that they can study whatever they want, after they get an engineering degree. Why? Because engineering makes you the most money.

Why don’t they ask us that when we grow up? Why don’t they ask us what we want to do when we’re choosing our college or university? Why is it, that we’re so obsessed with money and how much we will make? When did making money earn a spot above being happy and enjoying our job?

People tell me what I need to do. I couldn’t decide on a major, so I just said international business so I could put something down on my applications. I never wanted to do business, everyone around me wanted me to. Because I would make money.

Now that I have changed universities, and majors, everyone around me wants me to major in chemical engineering. Why? Because I will be a woman engineer, will get first priority on jobs, and will make money.

Since when did society decide that how much money we make in our lives is more important than how we live our lives? I never wanted to major in business. And I don’t want to major in engineering now. So, what do I do? Do I major in something that makes me happy, maybe never get a job in that field? Or do I live a miserable life of an engineer and have all the money I could ever need?

I’m not too much of a sap but I do believe that we’re here for a reason. We were not born to work 40 hours a week just to be miserable and then go home and be too tired and aggravated with our lives to be happy around our loved ones. Not saying my aunt and uncle aren’t happy. They get ample time off, sabbaticals, and have so much money that they go on multiple cruises every year.

But, why can’t I do that while doing something I love? I don’t want to have kids, hell I might not even get married. I just want it to be my dogs, maybe a goat, and myself. I want a nice house of course, and a nice car, but at the end of the day, when I’m on my deathbed, looking back on my life, am I going to remember the audi and the million dollar house that I had, or am I going to remember my job, where I spent most of my waking hours, my friends and colleagues that I met at that job, and all of the experiences outside of my house?

Shit, I want to do something I love, but the second I said I even considered switching my major to biology and them getting my masters in marine biology, my parents couldn’t have said the words “what about chemical engineering” faster. Why? They just want me to make money and be successful.

When did we define success as how much money you make at the end of the day? Why can’t success be something less materialistic? Why can’t we define success as something worth living for, something great? Something like how many friends I had, how many new places I visited, how much I enjoy my job? Why is success just money and power? When did we all agree that this is what society is going to be, and, why wasn’t I a part of this conversation?

So, what do I want to be when I grow up? Since I’ve started blogging, I have rekindled my love for writing. I love writing, being able to put all of my feelings down on paper, or on the blogosphere. It’s calming and I love seeing how my writing has progressed through time. I love animals. I would love to live on a farm with rehab animals and just help them escape lives of abuse, violence, etc. I would have farm animals, house animals, exotic animals, anything really. I would love, cherish, and care for each and every one of them. I love design. Over the summer. My life is a nonstop HGTV marathon. I love critiquing, agreeing and adding my own opinions on what I would do with each house, room, etc. I love yearbook. My entire highschool career was centered around my school’s yearbook, and although it may have caused me to turn gray early, I loved that class and I can’t imagine my life without it. And, now that I am not active in my school’s yearbook, I miss it. I love the mind. My entire life has been filled with mental illnesses and trying to understand the mind, why can’t I try to help others understand their minds as I have been trying to understand my own?If I could do any one of these things with my life, it would be grand. But, STEM is the way of the future and despite what you want/ like to do with your life, none of it matters if you can’t make money.

Everyone always tells you to never major in journalism, communications, psychology, philosophy. Basically nothing in the school of arts and letters. Major in business, major in STEM. Why? We need people in those fields, or else that major wouldn’t exist. We need biologists, we need therapists, we need writers, we need designers. Why can it be the other person. Why can’t it be me?

So, here we are. I spent countless nights crying myself to sleep because of how stressed I was, how stressed I was because I couldn’t find a major that suited me. And now, here we are, staring blankly at my ceiling wondering why I couldn’t have just picked something I enjoyed all along.

Talk to you all soon,

Alicia

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2 thoughts on “What do you want to be when you grow up?

  1. I think people stop asking what we want to be when we grow up after a certain age because we are supposed to be “grown up” and “being” it at that point. But honestly, I am not sure we ever really “grow up”, since we will always have growing to do. At the end of the day, what really matters is what makes you happy. If switching your majors to go into a career that you want to do is what makes you happy, do it. Your loved ones should understand. As I get older I have realized that doing what makes me happy is more important than doing what others want or expect me to do because it is my life, not theirs. But if money is the route you want to go, I am sure there is always time in the day to volunteer with animals or to write. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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