Who never heard this question before?
Since young age we are bombarded with this question and grown-ups are expecting kids know how to answer it. But why?
I’m 40 and I’m still not able to give a straight answer.
While I was growing up, the void of a straight answer was truly devastating. I recall looking to some of my school friends, some of them were so damn sure of who they wanted to be, I started having some anxiety concerning “my future”.
Since I was a kid I had many hobbies and interests. My curiosity always took the best of me. I wanted to be so many things, it even hurt.
So, I took that question as a prejudice and I promised to my future-self, I would fight against it with all my might, and no-one would ever break me, no parent, no teacher, no-one, period !
Meanwhile the sands of time kept running its course. I was at peace with that issue, sure I still could not have a straight answer to it, but I was at peace.
When I was 37 years old, my son was born. It was an event that made me stop and think about my life, my successes and failures, all those messages I was against, while growing into a man.
I’m on my way to 41, my kid is 4. In these 4 years I learned a lot watching him grow. One day he wants to be a superhero, other day he wants to be a firefighter, a chef, a painter, a musician …
But I do not ask him who he wants to be.
Breaking the magic of a kids imagination is one of the most horrific thing one could do.
This gave a new life to my quest – Could my greatest idol, Leonardo da Vinci, answer?
“Leonardo, who do you want to be when you grow up?”
Leonardo da Vinci was one man with multiple faces. Would he answer back, “I will be a painter, an engineer, an inventor, a musician, a poet, an anatomist, a geologist, a mechanic, a botanic” …. and so on ?
If someone asks me to define this man by just one word I would say – CURIOSITY
It is the main characteristic of every child. The entire World is a playground, there are so many things to learn, to see, to taste, to hear, to feel. That is why kids have all those “I want to be X”
Let me invite you to perform an exercise. If you have kids, or someone in your family or friends have kids, spend a day watching them play.
In a single day how many times do they play roles? And how many roles?
Could you play like them? No? Let me ask you, do you have hobbies? That is the way I see how grown-ups play “let’s pretend“.
For instance, I had (or still have) a multitude of hobbies.
Who do you want to be when you grow up ?
I still can not give a straight answer, because I consider all my hobbies and my job part of me – who I was, who I am and who I will become, is the sum of it all.
I can hear you thinking – “dude, an hobby is just to pass the time while having a good time”.
Let us dive back to our observation exercise.
While kids are playing, try to play with them. It will surprise you how serious they play. And yet, they are having a good time because they are living the moment.
Next time you are doing some hobby of yours, think about it seriously. Consider, just for that moment, that you are really good or that you really want to master what you are doing.
It takes time to remember how it was to be a kid. Allow me to invite you to use these three tools:
- Be curious
- Play often
- Take the play seriously
In the end, all Humans are polydimensional and all of us have the capability to reach new heights, new realities, new adventures and new outcomes.
So, let me ask you again – Who do you want to be when you grow up?