When I grow up…

I know adults mean well when they ask: “what do you want to do when you’re older?” But it’s a bit of a dumb question.

Ironically, however sure you may be at 18 that when you’re older you want to be Superman (or Cinderella), you can’t possibly know that…until you are older and figure out that the glasses would look better stamped on and those high heels are impossible to walk in every day. In which case how could you reliably choose what subjects you want to do at school, or even at degree level?

A study just published by an alliance of education organisations asked 11,800 young people in the UK aged between 13 and 18 what they wanted to do when they grew up. Apparently, these young people took it more seriously than the census because nobody said they wanted to be a Jedi, but they also had no sense of realism or knowledge about what sort of careers are actually out there.

Disregarding the exceptional, most kids of 13 or 14 think that a career is what people do on TV, or what mum and dad do when they’re not nagging you to stop watching TV. Shockingly, the most popular ambition was to be an actor/actress, though lawyer, police officer, doctor, sportsperson and teacher ranked pretty high too. As kids get older, ambitions get a bit more realistic – teacher, psychologist, accountant, police officer, lawyer, IT consultant….etc.

But the big problem: “career aspirations of teenagers at all ages can be said to have nothing in common with the projected demand for labour in the UK between 2010 and 2020.” Basically, 21 per cent of young people want to be in 2.4 per cent of the labour market, which essentially means that almost 9 out of 10 people will be disappointed.

Sorry Chuck, you can’t be an astronaut.

But I really don’t think this is as big a problem as the report suggests. Disappointment (and dealing with it) is part of life and frankly the world would be a better place if everybody worked in customer service at some point in their lives. If anything, they would learn to complain without throwing a hissy fit.

On a more serious note, there are plenty of jobs around today that did not even exist 10 years ago. Forbes put together a little list. Number one? App developer. To give you an idea of how successful you can be, Apple paid out $5bn (£3.3bn) to app developers last year.

My point is that it doesn’t matter what we want to do when we are at school. It probably won’t happen. And that’s ok. Your working life will likely be somewhere between 50 and 60 years. There’s plenty of time to change you mind.

The biggest tragedy is not that expectations are mismatched. It’s that schoolchildren and undergraduates are required to choose what they want to do with life before they are ready to choose what they want to do with life.

If this study’s authors want to tackle unrealistic expectations, they would do better not to keep asking.

Bottom line: sometimes it’s better not to know what you want to do. Sometimes it doesn’t matter.

7 thoughts on “When I grow up…

    1. louellen13

      . . . WHEN TELEVISIONS STARTED TO ARRIVE IN OUR COMMUNITY ( THE NEIGHBORHOOD – MADE US WELCOME ) TO COME AND WATCH ( AND IT WAS PERRY MASON ) THAT CAPTIVATED BY ATTENTION ( AMONG A COUPLE OTHER PROGRAMS ) BY THE TIME I WAS IN THE TENTH GRADE ( AND THEY WOULD ASK ME / WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE ) AND MY IMMEDIATE ANSWER WAS ( WHEN I GROW UP – WANT TO BE AN ATTORNEY ) BY THE TIME I HAD GRADUATED TO THE TWELFTH GRADE ( 1965 ) YOURS TRULY CAME INTO A NEW TERM ( MALE CHAUVINIST ) AND MY SCHOOL COUNSELOR WAS OUR SCHOOL PRINCIPLE – AND WHEN HE ASK ME WHAT I WANTED TO BE IN LIFE ( PROUDLY TOLD HIM / THAT I WANTED TO BE AN ATTORNEY ) HE TOOK OFF HIS EYE GLASSES – LAID THEM ON HIS DESK – LOOKED ME STRAIGHT IN THE FACE & ASKED ME ( CAN’T YOU THINK OF SOMETHING ELSE YOU CAN BE ) AND SINCE I HAD LONG SINCE – DECIDED TO ONE DAY BECOME AN ATTORNEY ( JUST TOLD HIM / NO SIR ) MY INTERVIEW WITH MY PRINCIPLE AKA HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELOR ( WAS CUT SHORT ) MY WHOLE HEART WAS IN – BECOMING AN ATTORNEY ( IF I HAD BECOME AN ATTORNEY – AS I HAD PLANNED ) WOULD HAVE BEEN AN ASSET TO THE LEGAL SYSTEMS OF AMERICA & THINGS WOULD DEFINITELY BE DIFFERENT & BETTER . . .

      Reply
      1. louellen13

        . . . BECAUSE OF MY MATERNAL FAMILY BLOODLINE ( WERE DIRECT DESCENDENTS TO THE FOUR ORIGINAL FOUNDING FAMILIES ) WE WERE CONSIDERED TO PEOPLE OF COLOR ( WHO WERE PRIVILEGED ) MY GRANDFATHER & HIS BROTHER – CAME INTO THE COMMUNITY WITH THE MEANS ( IMMANUEL ARKANSAS – ARKANSAS COUNTY / BEFORE THE TURN OF THE CENTURY / ETC ) TO PURCHASE THEIR FARMLANDS ( RESPECTIVELY ) AND THEY BROUGHT WITH THEM ( THEIR SISTER: WHO MARRIED INTO THAT FORTY ACRES & A MULE CONCEPT ) MY GREAT GRANDPARENTS ( RICHARD & MARY ) HAD TEN CHILDREN ( 7/SONS & 3/DAUGHTERS ) AND MY GRANDFATHER WAS ONE OF THEIR CHILDREN ( AND APPARENTLY ) IT WAS MY GRANDFATHER WHO HIS PARENTS COULD DEPEND UPON – BASED ON THE AGE THAT HE WAS – WHEN HE DECIDED TO MARRY ( AGE/39 ) WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY CAME ALONG ( MS SARAH MARTHA ELIZABETH ( CHILDS ) WASHINGTON ) MY GRANDFATHER TOOK A BRIDE – AND SHE CAME TO THE TABLE OF MARRIAGE – THUS BRINGING WITH HER ( A DOWRY ) HER FATHER DID NOT HAVE ANY BROTHERS ( JUST TWO SISTERS ) WHICH MEANS THAT THEIR FATHER DID NOT HAVE ANY SONS TO ASSIST IN THE FARMING OPERATIONS – ON HIS VAST TRACK OF FARMLAND ( THEIR FATHER BUILT A LOG CABIN ) WHICH EXISTED UP UNTIL THE NINETEEN SIXES ( IN THEIR PARENTS LAST WILL & TESTAMENT ) ONE SISTER GET HALF OF THE FARMLAND & THE LOG CABIN – AND THE OTHER SISTER GET ONE HALF OF THE FARMLAND & A TRACK OF LAND THAT CONTAINED A STAND OF TIMBER ( MS SARAH CHILDS MARRIES FIRST ) AND HER HUSBAND FARMS HER FARMLAND ( DEEMED AS AN INHERITANCE ) AND MAY I SAY – THAT THAT STAND OF TIMBER – YET STANDS ON THIS TRACT LAND ( AND LET US PRAY – THAT TIMBER RUSTLERS ) HAVE NOT GOTTEN AHEAD OF THE HEIRS ( IN THE CASE OF AFRICAN AMERICANS ) USUALLY – THEY ARE ALL UP NORTH & HAVE NOT BEEN DOWN TO CHECK ON THEIR ESTATES – IN A WHILE . . . BOTH MY GRANDPARENTS HAD SIZABLE PIECES OF FARMLAND ( THEREFORE ) MY GRANDFATHER WAS IN CHARGE OF TWO ESTATES – MY GRANDPARENTS HAD FIVE CHILDREN ( 3/SONS & 2/DAUGHTERS ) WITH MY MOTHER BEING ONE OF THEIR DAUGHTERS ( MY FATHER BUILT HER A BEAUTIFUL HOME ) ON HER PART OF HER MOTHERS ESTATE ( MY SISTER & I WERE BORN IN CHICAGO ) WHEN MY MOTHER RETURNED TO HER PRETTY HOUSE IN ARKANSAS COUNTY – SHE BROUGHT WITH HER ( TWO SMALL CHILDREN / GIRLS: AGE/1 & AGE/3 ) AND WHEN I WAS OLD ENOUGH – MY GRANDFATHER INTRODUCED ME TO A NEW THING ( THE HARVEST OF COTTON ) WHICH IS WHAT I WAS IN THE PROCESS OF DOING – THAT FALL – WHEN A GROUP OF LADIES CAME TO WORK IN MY GRANDFATHERS COTTON FIELD . . .

  1. louellen13

    . . . WHEN I GROW UP ( WAS THINKING ALONG THESE LINES – JUST THIS MORNING ) MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT SIX YEARS OLD – WAS IN THE COTTON FIELD – WHERE THERE WERE A GROUP OF AFRICAN AMERICAN LADIES ( WHO WAS DEEP IN CONVERSATION ) PERTAINING TO A TOPIC ON HIGHER EDUCATION ) WHEN THEY REALIZED THAT I WAS WITHIN LISTENING DISTANCE ( LITTLE PICTURES HAVE BIG EARS ) THESE LADIES MENTIONED TO ONE ANOTHER ( CHILD – NO ONE IS TALKING TO YOU – YOU PICK UP ) WHICH IS WHAT I DID . . . AFTER I HAD GOTTEN SOME WAYS AWAY FROM THEM & THEIR CONVERSATION ( BUT JUST THIS SIDE OF HEARING DISTANCE ) PLACED MY ELBOW ON MY KNEE & PICKED WITH ONE HAND – WHERE I COULD CONTINUE TO HEAR WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT ( TOPIC OF CONVERSATION: FAMILIES OF COLOR IN THE COUNTY – WHO HAD CHILDREN ) WITH AIMS TO ATTEND AN INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING – OVER YONDER ( ARKANSAS AM&N COLLEGE / JEFFERSON COUNTY – PINE BLUFF ARKANSAS / TIMELINE: 1950s / ETC ) AS I CAN REMEMBER – THIS WAS MY VERY FIRST OPPORTUNITY EVER – TO HAVE FOUND MYSELF INVOLVED IN A SESSION OF EAVESDROPPING ( WAS I EVER GLUED & WAS I EVER FASCINATED ) EACH AND EVERY LADY BROUGHT INFORMATION TO THIS TABLE OF CONVERSATION & COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE ( WELL – THE SO&SOs HAVE A SON – WHOSE GOING ) – ( AND THERE IS A DAUGHTER OUT THIS COMMUNITY – WHOSE GOING ) – ( AND A CHILD FROM THAT NEIGHBORHOOD – WHOSE GOING ) – ( THE SO&SOs CHILD WENT LAST YEAR & WILL BE RETURNING AGAIN THIS YEAR ) AND THE CONVERSATIONS CONTINUED . . . BUT THERE WAS THIS ONE LADY – WHO WAS DETERMINED TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION – TO THIS TABLE OF CONVERSATION & COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE ( BUT YOU KNOW ( SAID THIS MEEK LITTLE SPEAKER ) MRS SO&SO HAS A DAUGHTER – WHO WILL BE GOING THIS YEAR – TOO ( EVERY WOMAN IN THE GROUP TURNED & GAVE THIS LADY A LOOK – LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE ) SURE ENOUGH SAID EACH LADY ( WELL NOW ) WE ALL KNOW HOW SHE WILL BE GOING . . . NOW THIS TIME – NOT ONLY WAS I LISTENING WITH BOTH OF MY ITCHING LITTLE EARS ( BUT I WAS STANDING UP ) AND I HAD GATHERED STEMS FROM THE COTTON STALKS & MADE MYSELF A BOUQUET OF COTTON BOLLS ( SORT OF LIKE A BOUQUET OF FLOWERS ) AND I WAS PICKING TWO & THREE BOLLS AT A TIME & STUFFING THE COTTON THEREOF – INTO MY COTTON SACK ( DEEMED AS A COTTON BAG ) JUST ABOUT THE TIME THAT THE CONVERSATION TURNED TO THIS UNLIKELY FIELD HAND ( WAS TOO YOUNG TO UNDERSTAND – WHAT THIS WOMAN HAD DONE ) BUT I KNEW THAT SHE MUST HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG ( AND TERRIBLY WRONG ) BASED ON THE REPLIES THAT CAME FROM THE MOUTHS OF THE OTHER LADIES ( IT WAS EARTH SHAKING ) IN THE WAY THAT THEY ALL SAID IT . . . MY MIND SORT OF WENT WILD – BECAUSE OF THE TOPIC OF CONVERSATION ( THAT COLLEGE UP YONDER ) THIS SOUNDED LIKE A GREAT PLACE TO GO ( BUT WHAT IN THE WORLD DID THIS LADY’S DAUGHTER DO – IN ORDER TO GET THERE ) SINCE I DID NOT HAVE THE ANSWERS TO MY QUESTION ( TOOK THE MATTER UP WITH THE LORD ) LORD I SAID ( WHEN I GET TO BE A BIG GIRL ) – ( I WANT TO GO TO THAT COLLEGE UP THERE ) – ( BUT WHAT EVER THIS GIRL DID TO GET THERE ) – ( I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THAT ) ALL OF THIS TALK TO THE LORD – MUST HAVE BEEN MY FIRST EFFORTS TOWARDS PRAYING ( WANTED TO GO TO COLLEGE ONE DAY / BUT I WANTED TO HAVE A CLEAN CONSCIOUS ) ONCE I GOT THERE . . . AND WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT ( JUNE 1966 / NINE WEEKS ) WHEN I ARRIVE ON CAMPUS SOME YEARS LATER – MY RICH UNCLE FROM THE NORTH – WIRED ME THE FUNDS BY WESTERN UNION – TO PAY FOR MY ROOM & BOARD – AS WELL FOR MY BOOKS & A COUPLE OF ITEMS OF CLOTHING ( MY LORD & SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST ) KEPT A RECORD OF THE PRAYERS OF A MERE CHILD – WHO WAS TOO YOUNG TO UNDERSTAND – WHAT SHE HAD HEARD – BUT WAS ABLE TO REACH WITHIN HERSELF – FOR THE UNDERSTANDING THAT SHE NEEDED – TO REACH A DISTANCE SOCIAL AIM & GOAL – TO GOD BE THE GLORY – FOR THE THINGS HE HAS DONE . . .

    Reply
  2. lahacienda

    You are so right. I was clueless when I was in school. When I was growing up in Greece, every parent’s aspiration was for their kid to be either a lawyer or a doctor – professions that would supposedly secure you financially. End result? We’re full of unemployed lawyers and no plumbers in sight. I have noticed one thing though: The most interesting people I know have not stuck to the same careers they started in. Life is full of potential, just keep your eyes open.

    Reply
    1. louellen13

      . . . AS I STOOD STRAIGHT UP IN THE COTTON FIELD – WHERE ANYONE & EVERYONE COULD SEE – THAT I WAS DEFINITELY WORKING ( PLUCKING LOCKS OF COTTON FROM MY BOUQUET OF COTTON BOLLS ) AND STUFFING IT BY THE HANDS FULL – INTO MY COTTON SACK ( ONE OF OUR FIELD HANDS – WHO WAS LATE COMING TO WORK ( AND AT THE SAME TIME ) SHE WAS COMING TOWARDS ME ) SHE HAD TO HAVE BEEN DEAF – NOT TO HAVE HEARD ME WRESTLING WITH SOMETHING THAT WAS ( AT THIS POINT IN MY LIFE ) TO TAKE PLACE IN A DISTANCE FUTURE . . . LET US SAY – THAT WHEN SHE HEARD ME FUSSING TO MYSELF & INCLUDING THE LORD GOD – IN MY SMALL EFFORTS TO DEAL WITH SOMETHING – THAT I DID NOT QUITE UNDERSTAND ( SHE STOPPED & LISTENED TO THIS SMALL CHILD ) THE REASON I SAY SHE STOPPED TO LISTEN ( IS BECAUSE ) WHEN I LOOKED UP – THERE SHE WAS & SHE HAD A VERY CONCERNED LOOK ON HER FACE ( THERE WERE TWO SMALL SISTERS OF US / MY GRANDFATHERS GRAND BABIES FROM THE NORTH ) ONCE THE CHILD SAW THAT THE LADY WAS LOOKING AT HER ( HAVE YOU PICKED YOUR FIFTY POUNDS OF COTTON YET ) THIS FIELD HAND WANTED TO KNOW ( NOT YET ( SAID THE SIX YEAR OLD ) BUT AS SOON AS I GET MY ROW OUT – THEN I WILL HAVE MY FIFTY POUNDS ( THE SMALL CHILD OF COLOR – REITERATED ) WHERE UPON – THE FIELD HAND CAME OVER & LOOKED AT MY COTTON SACK & ALL SHE COULD SAY WAS – OK BABY . . . AFTER HAVING INTERRUPTED THIS YOUNGSTERS THOUGHTS – THIS NICE LADY TURNED HER ATTENTION TO – WHAT SHE PRECEDED TO HAVE BEEN THE CHILDS PERSONAL NEEDS ( DO YOU NEED TO GO WE-WE ) THIS TERM WAS A NEW ONE FOR ME ( WHAT – REPLIED THE YOUNGSTER ) DO YOU NEED TO GO TO THE TOILET ( NO MA’AM ) BUT MAY I HAVE A DRINK OF WATER – PLEASE . . . BY THE TIME THE CHILD HAD GOTTEN TO THE WATER BUCKET ( WHICH CONTAINED A COMMON DIPPER ) THE WAY THE YOUNG CHILD DRANK – TOLD THIS NICE LADY – THAT THE CHILD WAS ACTUALLY – HUNGRY ( BY NOW – THEIR PERSONAL CONVERSATION HAD ENDED ) AND THE GROUP OF LADIES WERE AMAZED AT HOW WELL THE CHILD & THE LATE COMER HAD TAKEN TO EACH OTHER ( THE LATE COMER ASKED ( DO ANYONE HAVE A BISCUIT ) OR ANYTHING LEFT OVER FROM YOUR LUNCH ( THE FIELD HANDS LOOKED AROUND – AT EACH OTHER ) AS THEY ALL THOUGHT ABOUT THEIR EMPTY BROWN PAPER BAGS – THAT HAD HOUSED THEIR SMALL MIDDAY MEAL ( BUT THOUGHTS RAN THROUGH THEIR MINDS / BECAUSE OF THEIR THOUGHTLESSNESS ) FROM NOW ON – WE MUST LOOK OUT FOR SMALL CHILDREN & BRING A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA WITH US – FOR THEIR LITTLE STOMACHS – ALSO ( THESE WOMEN WERE THE WIVES OF MINISTERS & DEACONS FROM AROUND THE COUNTY ) WHOSE NUMBERS RESTED UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF ONE COMMON PRESIDENT ( AN ORGANIZATION: DEEMED AS THE SO-SATION ) SO-SATION ( DEFINED ) AS OLD NEGRO DIALECT FOR THE TERM ( ASSOCIATION ) PRONOUNCED IN SUCH A WAY – AS TO KEEP THE PEOPLE OF COLOR IN THEIR PLACES . . . THE PURPOSE OF THIS ORGANIZATION – WAS TO KEEP A CHECK ON EACH & EVERY BLACK HOUSEHOLD IN THE COUNTY – WITH THESE CHECKS BEING DONE BY BLACK LEADERSHIP ( PRIORITIES: ADULTS SOCIAL BEHAVIORS & ARE HOUSEHOLDS PERSONAL NEEDS BEING MET ) – ( THE WELFARE OF THE CHILDREN OF COLOR & MAKING SURE THAT ITS CHILDREN WERE IN SCHOOL ) AND ONCE THESE PRIORITIES WERE UP TO PAR – THE PRESIDENT & ITS FOLLOWERS ( MINISTERS & DEACONS / PLUS THE HEADS OF EACH BLACK HOUSEHOLD / ETC ) WOULD TURN THEIR ATTENTION RESPECTIVELY – TO AN ESSENTIAL NEED ( DEEMED AS SEED MONIES ) THERE WERE QUITE A FEW OF US – WHO LIVED RIGHT IN THE MID OF ( A BLACK SETTLEMENT / F’DED 1865 / ETC ) WHERE THERE WERE FOUR ORIGINAL FOUNDING FAMILIES ( WITH THERE BEING ONLY TWO SCHOOLS IN THE WHOLE COUNTY ) FOR CHILDREN OF COLOR ( ONE OF THESE SCHOOLS WAS LOCATED IN THIS BLACK SETTLEMENT ) – ( WITH THE OTHER SCHOOL OF COLOR ) BEING IN THE EXTREME NORTHWEST COUNTER OF THE COUNTY . . . THIS ORGANIZATION & ITS MEMBERS OF COLOR – WERE BACKED UP BY A FEW GOOD PEOPLE IN THE COUNTY ( DEEMED AS SYMPATHIZERS ) WHO WE WILL SAY ( ARE GODS VESSELS ) PEOPLE WHO LOOK OUT FOR CERTAIN PEOPLE – WHO CAN NOT CARRY THEMSELVES IN THIS WORLD – AND THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO STANDS FOR ( SEED MONIES ) MONETARY ESSENTIALS NEEDED TO MAKE PURCHASES FOR ( THE FORTY ACRES & A MULE CONCEPT ) THE PEOPLE OF COLOR – WHO OWN FARMLAND – THATS FARMED FOR THE PROPOSE OF TAKING CARE OF THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS & THEIR FARM OWNERSHIP NECESSITIES ( WHEN I GROW UP . . . ) NOW THAT AM A GROWNUP – MAKES ME FEEL GOOD – TO LOOK BACK ON ALL OF THIS – AND THEN SHARE ALL OF THIS – WITH MY READERS . . .

      Reply
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