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What I Want to Be(come) When I Grow Up

Back-to-school time (with all its trappings of new supplies, clothes, shoes, and hair-cut) builds excitement of change, transformation, and possibility--a publicly-mandated participation in the equivalent of New Year's resolutions for the K-12 set. Even as an adult, I find myself taking self-inventory as summer draws to an end and welcome the re-establishment of old routines and the introduction of new. 

No longer am I required to write essays titled, "What I Did this Summer," or "What I Want to Be When I Grow Up," yet I find myself pondering the answers--especially regarding that latter topic. That might seem strange, as I've been an adult most of my life. What I wanted for my future, I've obtained: a Bachelor of Arts degree, the opportunity to stay at home and raise a family, seeing my children grow up and start families of their own. Check. Check. Check. 

While I had wished for those things, and I'm happy they happened, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with viewing them as complete. My degree is earned, but learning continues. My stay-at-home mom title is outdated, but I still enjoy homemaking. My kids will always be my kids, no matter how old they are. 

Though AARP invited me (a few years back!) to join the ranks of retired persons, I bristle at that idea. I don't feel old. Then again, I can't accept other labels that have been applied to me, either: runner, seamstress, organist, elegant lady. (While I can disagree with all of them, that last one comes with a hearty laugh and an eye-roll!) I'm not a real runner, because other runners are faster and slimmer. I'm not a real seamstress, because other women sew more often and more complicated projects with fewer mistakes than I do. I'm not a real organist; I'm just someone with a couple of years of piano lessons and a willingness to help at church. I'm not an elegant lady, because I'm much more excited about farm animals and gardens than black-tie affairs. 

Yet. . . my age qualifies me for AARP. I've completed 2 half-marathons (and tomorrow that number will go up to 3), and numerous 10K and 5K races. I've completed many different sewing projects. I have accompanied the congregation at church off and on for many years, and not once has anyone expressed dismay that I don't use the foot pedals. I might not be very comfortable in formal settings, but I can smile and pretend. 

Why do I (and, I suspect, many others) struggle with definitions that I don't think completely fit? We are blinded by comparison against a perfect ideal that we fail to see our own progress and potential. This quote explains:
“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as "rootless and stemless." We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don't condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.”
― W. Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance
Am I standing in wonder during the process, while simultaneously believing I am perfectly all right at the moment? Not really, but I can apply the lessons from that analogy into this situation. I can be the kind of person who can have that attitude, as long as I make a conscious effort to do so.

I remember reading this article about how a man changed his life by changing his computer passwords. He became forgiving, gave up smoking, and accomplished other goals by typing in his password day after day. What was a small, simple thing made a big difference in his life.

When I started this blog, Thankful Me, I wanted to develop a more thankful attitude. It worked. By publicly labeling myself, I've cut back on even a lot of my private complaining. I am Thankful Me. The blog served as a reminder of who I wanted to become. 

The great director, Frank Capra, stated the importance of reminders when he said:
“Someone should keep reminding Mr. Average Man that he was born free, divine, strong; uncrushable by fate, society, or hell itself; and that he is a child of God, equal heir to all the bounties of God; and that goodness is riches, kindness is power, and freedom is glory. Above all, every man is born with an inner capacity to take him as far as his imagination can dream or envision-providing he is free to dream and envision.” 
― Frank Capra, The Name Above The Title

I am free to dream and envision, and I can be patient with myself through the process. I do qualify for AARP. I am a runner, a seamstress, an organist, and a (cough, cough) elegant lady. I am certainly not finished maturing, but I can be amazed at, and enjoy this journey called life. 

I've been answering the wrong question all of these years. Instead of "What do I want to be when I grow up?" I should be answering, "Who do I want to become?" And whatever that answer is, I have that seed already inside me. 

I'm linking this post to a Finish the Sentence Friday blog hop. Thanks to co-hosts Kristi at Finding Ninee and Kenya at Sporadically Yours.


  1. I love that final question and think we all need to think more along these lines for ourselves now, too! :)

    1. Looking at it that way seems more compassionate. :-)

  2. Excellent post. I love the message. It reminds me of something I learned a long time ago starting a new job and making that first impression. You want it to be a good impression but the same impression you can live up to, so be yourself (but of course on if you're happy with who you are).

    1. Thank you. Being yourself usually works out to be the best course of action.

  3. You've changed the look of your blog! I've been considering a change on my blog as well, but haven't taken the challenge yet knowing there might be some new things to learn in the process. LOL

    What a wonderful message you have shared!

    I hope you will never tire of being considered a kid, just as you refer to your grown kids as kids. (There needs to be a word that means one's adult child or kid, I think. I wonder if other languages have such a word. I may have to Google that.)

    I love the article about the password!

    1. No, I will always be your kid! Keeps me young! :-)

  4. I'm loving the new look and really appreciated both of the quotes. Being who we are in the moment and pondering who we want to become is perfect. I've been thinking a lot about who I want to become recently. As Tucker gets older, I spend less time advocating (and worrying) for (and about) him and wonder... will I write the novel I want to, or do I just think I'm supposed to write a novel because I said I would in college and beyond? Also, you're so totally a runner - I can pretty much say I'll never run a half marathon ever. Running just isn't my "thing." Here's to becoming more and more of who we wish to be!

    1. Those are two of my favorite quotes; they just ring true.
      I suspect that my recent move into my "empty-nest" house has also made me ponder a bit about who I am and who I want to become.

  5. I read that article about the password motivation. I tried it and it kind of worked! And I like the re-framing of your question at the end, for many reasons. Most importantly, do we ever really grow up?

    1. I expect that I will spend all my days growing up; life seems richer with the continued possibility of progression and improvement.

  6. Loved reading this and love the question at the end.


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