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Life > Experiences

 What Do I Want to be When I Grow Up? Maybe I’ll Never Know

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CUA chapter.

What do you want to be when you grow up?” seemed to be the only question asked when I was young. Teachers, family friends, and extended family always seemed to ask that to me growing up. Slowly, as I got older, that changed to “What do you want to study in college?” Now, as time in college draws to a close, it has changed to “What are your plans post graduation?” 

I’ve thought a lot about what I want to be when I grow up. Honestly, as a graduating senior, it’s something I still wonder about. When I was little, there was a lot that I wanted to do and be when I grew up: a world traveler, a teacher, a professional baseball player, a singer, a lawyer, and more. Clearly, some were much more attainable than others – why did I ever think I’d be a professional baseball player? Others were much more realistic, like being a teacher or a lawyer. However, as I got older, my ‘dream job’ seemed to become even more unclear. 

When I was a senior in high school, I would feel sheer panic whenever anyone asked what I wanted to study and what I wanted to do for a career. I simply had no idea what I actually wanted to do for a full-time job. My high school guidance counselor would have us take various types of career tests that aimed to match our interests and personality traits to potential careers. Everytime I took one of these tests I got a wildly different answer. They would range from everything from a Park Ranger to a Chemical Engineer. While these tests were made to be helpful, they often left me more confused and stressed than before. When I started applying to colleges, I would list my intended major as something different for each school I applied to so, when my family and friends would ask, “What do you want to study?” I truly didn’t have an answer to give them. 

By the time I started my freshman year of college, I had a better idea of what I wanted to study. After some coaching and help from my brothers, I decided to major in Economics. While I decided to switch my major to Economics, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career after college. This decision seemed too big for me to handle. The Economics program at my university is a small and structured program, so because of this, there typically isn’t a lot of different choices and options for classes. One of the reasons I liked the Economics program was because of the lack of choices I would have to make. Each semester my advisor would tell me what classes to sign up for, meaning I didn’t have to make many decisions. Even when it came to choosing a minor, my advisor told me to choose from either Statistics, Finance or Data Analytics. When I asked about other potential choices, she told me that these were my only ‘real’ options to have a competitive advantage in the job market. So, I took her word and decided to become a Finance minor without ever taking a Finance or Business course. While for most people this lack of flexibility and rigidity may be unappealing, I thrived in this type of environment. 

My avoidance of making large decisions has been evident throughout most of my life. I don’t believe that it comes from a ‘carefree’ or ‘laid back’ attitude (I’d actually consider myself to be quite the opposite of this) but rather from a deeper fear of the future. Even now, with a full-time job lined up for after graduation, I still find myself being scared of what my future holds. I currently have a job lined up as a Financial Analyst at a large government defense contracting company which I interned at between my junior and senior years. During the internship, I genuinely enjoyed the work I performed and the company as a whole. While I’m excited and eager to start my career in this field, I can’t help but wonder: is this what I want to be when I grow up? While accepting this full-time offer was the easy and logical next step in my professional career, I can’t help but wonder if this is my ‘dream job’. Sometimes, I still have those same thoughts that I did when I was young and think, maybe I should be a teacher, a lawyer, or a world traveler.  Maybe this job in Finance won’t be my ‘dream job’ but, for now, it’s good enough for me. While I may be finishing up college, my life is far from over. I still have plenty of time to explore new places, interests, and careers, and maybe even find out what I truly want to be when I grow up. 

So, what do I want to be when I grow up? Maybe I’ll never know, and that’s okay. 

Hey! I'm a current Economics student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.! I love Spotify playlists, hammocking, coffee, and expressing my voice through writing!