“What do you wanna be when you grow up?”

by Anna Pomeroy '23 on February 16, 2023
Portfolio Staff


I’ve come to realize we have constantly been faced with the dreaded unknown of our future. Now, that may seem like an obvious statement, but we have been conditioned since we were little to ponder the question, “What do you wanna do with your life?” Every elementary school child was asked the same question: “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” It was merely an icebreaker. We’d answer with the popular responses of “an astronaut,” “a scientist,” or even have enough confidence to say “famous.” While these answers allowed us to think and dream of what one day may be true, they were only figments of our imagination at the time, representing the potential we saw within ourselves. Today, those in their early 20s become squeamish at the dreaded question. Always right on cue when the conversation dies down at the Thanksgiving table and distant relatives are attempting to stay involved in your life. More likely than not, we reply with a vague answer. The once confident child is now faced with the humbling reality of life in your 20s. No longer are we praised for dreaming big in hopes of wanting to be “famous,” but summoned and scolded to be more realistic. As for me, I remember what I once believed to be true. I wished to be a dancer. Little did my 7-year-old self know that I would actually have to had started dancing approximately 4 years before that. Another time I wrote that I wanted to be a professional chef. Yet, as hard as this is to admit, I’ve managed to burn pasta to a crisp. Now the point of this is not to ridicule my younger self for believing I had the potential to become a Radio City Rockette, or  a sous-chef to Gordon Ramsey. Rather, I applaud that 7 year old. The dreaded question that forces everyone to curl up into a ball, I once answered with confidence. The younger version of myself truly believed in me…I was once my biggest supporter. While we can never run from this question–well maybe when we turn 40–we’ll be out of the woods–it’s interesting to see the impact that life’s little truths have had on personal perceptions of ourselves.