“When I grow up, I wanna be a firefighter,” says one kid. He ends up becoming a test pilot for the Air Force.
“I wanna be a doctor,” says another. She goes on to become a real estate agent.
“And I wanna be a sugardaddy.” He goes on to be President of the United States.
When you were growing up, you undoubtedly dreamt of what career you’d have one day. I was no exception, though I changed my mind about my future profession at least once a week. Here’s an abbreviated list of all my various career aspirations in roughly chronological order, starting at about age five.
- Doctor (age 5)
- Teacher (age 5)
- “Businessman” (age 6)
- U.S. President (age 6, for all of about three minutes)
- Explorer (age 7)
- Astronaut (age
- Captain of the Starship Enterprise (age 9)
- Teacher, again (age 10)
- Archaeologist (age 10)
- Astronomer (age 11)
- Artist (age 12)
- Writer (age 12)
- Lawyer (age 13)
- Biologist (age 13)
- Writer, again (age 14)
- Physicist (age 15)
- Mathematician (age 15)
- Photographer for Playboy (age 16—yes, I’m serious)
- Physicist, again (age 16)
- Mathematician, again (age 17)
You can see the wide spectrum of career choices I explored before ultimately discarding all of them and becoming a computer science major and eventually a software/systems engineer. So what happened that caused me to give up my dreams of writing, exploring the cosmos, or taking pictures of naked women?
- I realized I wanted a well-paying job. After being relatively poor during childhood, I decided that whatever job I had would pay well enough that my family would have a nice home and a secure financial future. Being a writer or teacher would have been great, but I’d have a harder time keeping food on the table.
- I saw the demand in the computer field. While I spent most of my high school years wanting to be a physicist, the job prospects in that field were greatly diminishing since there hasn’t been much new in physics in the last 50 years.
- I started to warm up to computers. I didn’t have my own computer until my teenage years, but once I did, it was hard to keep me off of it. While I did use it to further my writing and science interests, I quickly discovered that I simply enjoyed clacking away on that keyboard more than anything.
- I grew up. Fast. Various personal events required that I go from age 12 to age 24 almost overnight. My dreams of “fantasy” jobs like astronaut and President were left behind, but I’m not really sad about that.
- I lived near a great technology university. This sealed the deal. I got paid to go there and get my computer science degree, and I lived just 15 minutes away.
I like what I do now, though I’m not sure it’s something I plan to do for the rest of my professional life. I may eventually decide to become a teacher or a writer, but I’ll just save those aspirations for a mid-life crisis.
Did you become what you wanted to be when you grew up? If so, are you happy with your decision? If not, what happened?