What do you want to be when you grow up?


grow upThis Sunday, elder nieceling comes to visit.

Weather permitting, we’ll start the day with a long walk, then come back and hang out, maybe watch a movie on the big TV and meet the grandparents for lunch.

In and around all that, we’ll look for a job.  Well, a job for her.  Well, a different job for her.

See, she graduated earlier this year with her Criminal Justice degree.  She managed a fine GPA and had extra-curricular activities since high school with the local police department, gaining a strong reference and supporter.

Despite all that, she chose to delay actually starting a career and focused on earning some quick cash.  This was not particularly surprising to me, though it caused great consternation from her Grandparents.

I get it, I do.  Parents and Grandparents want her to get started in her career, earning real money and advancing herself to secure her future.  All older people who have danced the dance of a lifetime of working feel the same way.  I feel it, too.  I just know that’s not always what we feel in our early 20’s.

One of the most common themes is that many (most?) kids change their minds about what they want to be when they “grow up”.  My elder nieceling gave some pause in her pursuit of Criminal Justice and initial goal of joining the police force by wondering if she should “branch off” with a co-major in Psychology.

My younger nieceling recently sent the family’s heads spinning by changing her Pharmacy training (and current job) to a new major, Marine Biology.  This will add more years to her ultimate graduation, but most of the family is more concerned with where the heck she will find a job (though South Florida is a likelier place than most).

I can understand the unrelated divergence of young nieceling, it mirrors a change I went through during my first stint in college.

Originally, I planned on becoming an accountant.  No particular driving force other than I was great at math and it seemed a good career to make money.  In short time, I became immensely bored with the classes (as well as being unable to find any reason for Calculus).

I switched into the totally unrelated field of Advertising (but appealing to me from all my writing and drawing days).  Though successfully completing the degree, I would go on to find out something that ultimately aided me in becoming an author:  I don’t like doing creative work for others.

Years later, I went back and got that long-overdue Accounting degree (yes, I only get degrees in majors beginning with “A”…I could never decide whether Agriculture or Architecture should be next).  That led to 20-something years of Financial Accounting and analysis which led to a new car, a new home and an early retirement.

It also led me to finally get an answer to that question of what I wanted to be when I grew up.  After two degrees and a quarter century in the workforce, the answer was more simple than I could ever have guessed.


When elder nieceling and I sit down and look at prospective jobs this weekend, I hope to impart that tiny bit of wisdom to her.  In an odd twist, it doesn’t always have to be the journey, it can simply be the destination.

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