When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

I.e. the career you are in now (if you are (yet)). For me, it was rather late in life-I originally wanted to be a biologist, but frankly I have very little patience for the minutae of the field, but noticed during 1-1 conferences with my students (as a TA) that they easily got concepts that eluded them during lectures and labs. Something “clicked” with me regarding that, and I’ve been a tutor ever since (age 38). Before even the biology track tho I was all over the map (I must have had over half-a-dozen majors by age 30), but nothing ever “stuck” with me like tutoring has.

I have some kids who know very early-and it’s obvious that they’re 100% sincere and serious about it. I have a 2nd grader right now who knows that she’ll be a paleontologist (yes she used that word to tell me) A few years ago another 2nd grader told me he wanted to be a “movie star”; when I pressed him for details, it turned out he meant “special effects guy”, but didn’t know how to say that (spent a lot of spare time between lessons drawing some very stylish alien creatures).


I think about it almost every day - I’m 44 and still waiting to figure it out. Meanwhile, I work as a temp because it’s relatively painless.

I wanted to be a ballerina and a figure skater when I was in grade school - neither of those has really worked out for me. :slight_smile:

I’m only doing what I’m doing because it was convenient. It was certainly never anything I would have chosen otherwise.

You’re kidding, right?

I think most of us educate ourselves in some manner and then end up where we end up.

“Yeah, I really wanted to be a Quality Assurance Representative for a Crown Corporation.”


I picked my current career during spring break my freshman year in college and my specialty during the summer afterwards. I’m more interested in where I live then what I do so I’m planning a career change in the next couple of years so I can live where I want. At least currently I picked the 17-20 group but in a couple of years that probably will change.

I want to be a lumber jack . . . .

And that’s ok.
After spending 5 years fiddling around in university, changing majors, no clue what I was going to do with a degree in History with a minor in whatever it is this week, I took a few years off, and figured out there was a need for nurses. I also figured I would do that for a while until I figured out what I REALLY wanted to do.

I went to nursing school and have never looked back. Im more in management now than direct nursing care, but my job requires me to be a nurse. It’s not always glamourous and sometimes the hours and shifts are deadening but I have always had work and the means to support myself.

Also I am better at crossword puzzles and trivia than most of my nursing colleagues who went straight to nursing school.

When I was about 5 years old, I KNEW I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up.
Of course, I also wanted to be an astronaut and a doctor, but hell… I was 5 years old.

So now, I am a scientist.
At least that part worked out.

heh heh heh

At about five years old I wanted to be in movies.

After that I wanted to be a marine biologist.

In my second year of College I realized that I could in fact make money working in theatre, and that I enjoyed the backstage life much more than acting. So I picked 17-20.

Lets see, today at work I had to get a permit for open flame on stage, mixed up some blood, made a bullet hole wound (which I need to make bigger), and oh yeah I hung someone from a noose a few times. And I guess I did some paperwork and other boring stuff too, but we can let that slide.

I want to be a stay-at-home trophy wife. But I’m not cute enough!

But seriously. The only thing I could imagine doing happily is getting paid to play video games or read/write books. Anything else is a total chore that I hate but do anyway because I need to make money to afford my desire to read and play video games in my spare time.

When I was about 18 I had bigger aspirations. But I’ve since become a strict pragmatist and realized that individual people have very little impact on the world and no effect on the universe. So what’s the point? I turned from idealism to selfish hedonism in my spare time and it’s serving me alright thus far.

I just sort of fell into my career. I didn’t know I wanted it until I started into it. I am an environmental science/technician. Long story, but I’d gone to college for a cert in oilfield ops/instrumentation, and when I got out the bottom had fallen out of that particular field. I took a job as a secretary in a small environmental consulting firm (parent company was a huge native corp though) and every time they said “hey, who wants to go to the wilderness on this disaster”? I said “Me, me”! and through the years, just gained more and more knowledge, training certification and so on.

The more I learn, the more I love it. And I’m not even much more than just “light green” but my job is greenie green. :smiley:

I’m not sure about knowing what I wanted to be. I decided what I was going to be when I was 16, at the start of my last year at school. I looked at the various options in the careers book in the school library, read the entry for ‘Actuary’ and thought…“looks interesting and challenging, pays well”…and thirty years later here I am.

I’d wanted to be a meteorologist through grade school and high school, up until I discovered just how much math and physics one had to take for a bachelor’s degree in meteorology.

I entered college intending to major in business. During my freshman year, I discovered market research as part of my work-study job, and became interested in it. I got a master’s degree in market research after getting my bachelor’s in marketing, and have worked in the field, in some capacity, for the past 21 years.

I wish your poll had an “other” option. There really wasn’t much choice. My parents are uber-strict and both professionals, and they expected me and my sister to pick from a limited number of careers/degree options.

If I could do anything I “wanted” I’d probably honestly just sit around and read books and blog once in a while. Maybe I would have some low-level aspirations to be Gerald Durrell but who am I kidding? I’m a mild hypochondriac with an encyclopedic knowledge of parasitic diseases and a fear of airplanes. Neither of these is a viable job/career in my opinion.

Of course, come the armageddon I’ll be put out in the fields with the other JD/MBAs, or maybe just killed outright for getting the two assholiest degrees on the face of the planet. But I’m pretty certain my plan is to be eaten by zombies before the meek inherit the earth and all of that. The meek are always made out to be quite vengeful when they rise to power in the wake of the apocolypse.


I answered the title, not the question on the poll.

OK, what I actually answered:
to me, “vocation” is “that thing which, when you discover it, you realize it’s what was missing in your life; it’s what you were born to do, what makes you whole.” It does NOT have to be professional. Middlebro’s vocation is to be a husband and father, and last time we looked nobody pays you for that. My own vocation I discovered at age 3: put in that age’s terms, I wanted to “go places without my parents”, which I’ve been doing since I was 18 (there are also occasional bouts of “going places with relatives” and of “being someplace and having relatives come visit”, I haven’t stopped talking to the family).

Now, what pays for the traveling? That’s a completely different animal. I ended up in my current career (ERP consulting) basically by happenstance. I’m good at it (I kick ass at process improvement, if I may say so myself, and I’m also absurdly good at contingency planning, documentation and data cleansing) but I never went “I know, I’m going to become a functional analyst!”

I wanted to be an astronaut at age 6. I still do, but now I’m too old, fat and wear glasses, hate the military life, have a very fine sense of balance(and easily get motion sickness) and I’m not from Ohio.

I’ve always liked the intrepid newspaper reporter model, and although I am now an editor and not a writer, I’ve always been drawn to journalism and working with words and deadlines. I chose 13-16 because that’s when I started playing around with “writing” and “laying out” newspapers and magazines (aka drawing picture boxes and writing articles with friends), but it could be earlier.

I was about 10 when I put an actual title to it–Architect, but I would say from an very early age I enjoyed building and designing things. I recall enjoying drawing/sketching and making houses with Lincoln Logs, etc. I enjoyed creating things from a very early age, but about 10 years old I heard the term Architect and from then on pretty much knew what I was going to be when I grew up. Now of all the people I know, I would agree it is a rare thing to know so early. But there you go, it does happen.

I was always likely to end up in this type of role, and as my Dad worked in a similar field it was one I was familiar with. If dad had worked the same role for Big Oil I’d have probably looked there for a role.

I know that I want to make things that make people happy, that I want to work with my hands, and that I want to be surrounded by interesting colors and textures and smells and tastes. Unfortunately, I think that a LOT of people feel that way, and I can’t nail it down to any one career–not one that wouldn’t also involve being a ruthless businessperson, which I’m not.

So basically, I’ve never been enchanted with the idea of a “career”. Finding Mr. Right, having babies, keeping house, and being able to do something nice when the kids are in school (like clerk in a yarn store, decorate cakes, etc) were my ultimate aspirations. At 30, I’m finally there and about to quit the loathsome office job.