What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? I’m Still Figuring It Out!

notebooks and laptop on desk promoting education
Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

What I want to be when I grow up

Our youngest graduates high school this May, so there is a lot of talk about majors and decisions on futures in our house. She’s kiddo #5, and this is not my first rodeo. This is big stuff! Important decisions need to be made and lives are at stake!

But when I was a little girl, all I wanted to be was a mom.

I never had big aspirations or even a specific career in mind. I did like to write; I thought writing a book would be neat. But beyond that, I just wanted to be a mother.

I went to college because that’s what we did in my family. I’m not complaining at all. It was expected we go to college, so my sister, brother, and I all got our bachelor’s degrees. What a gift our parents gave us by providing that opportunity! I never take that for granted. But I had zero clues as to what I wanted to be or to major in – except motherhood.

At the time, computers were becoming a real thing, so I chose to major in computers. Big mistake!

If you know anything about me – math and science are not my strengths. I can do basic math, and I do our budget and taxes. I homeschooled my three youngest kids, and the first thing I did was get a good math curriculum that would teach them because I sure couldn’t!

So after my first semester majoring in computers, the university politely informed me that I needed to make better grades or they would no longer welcome me there. I was shocked! I had never made bad grades! Turns out you actually have to (a) go to class and (b) have a basic understanding/interest in your classes. Life lessons we all have to learn though.

Considering I already told you I got my bachelor’s degree, you know I eventually wised up and started going to class. But I also switched my major. I found one that worked better for me; one that I enjoyed the classes (mostly) and that involved zero extra math or science. That’s a win!

Was that major – speech communication – what I really wanted to be after I graduated?

Nope. I still wanted to be a mom.

Guess what I did after college? I got a full-time job working at a print shop. I met my future husband, got married, and followed him off into the Navy-guided sunset. And I became a mom. Whoop whoop!

Was my degree a waste? Was my job at the print shop or the part-time job at the little newspaper before I had our first child a waste? Not at all. What I’ve realized is that I still don’t have huge career aspirations. I love being a mom, and I was blessed to be able to be a stay at home mom.

As my kids got older, I started working a little here and there. Now that so many things can be done online, I have been able to branch out even more into some writing and marketing. And a few years ago I started teaching as an adjunct instructor. Guess what I teach? Speech communication!

So you see my education, life experiences, and dreams of being a mom all came full circle.

notebooks and laptop on desk promoting education
Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

I believe that what I learned in college and in the years that followed were all meant to be. These years and skills gave me the chance to help my kids with their schoolwork and eventually help guide them with their educational choices.

I truly don’t believe anyone knows what they want to be when they’re 18.

How in the world could we know? For most of us, those 18 years have been spent in a pretty insulated world. Yes, you find those few teens who know they want to be a veterinarian, a doctor, go in the military, or what have you. But I would counter that by saying when they go to a university, the majority of them change their major.

And perhaps they are not even ready for university yet, I do not believe going to college is for everyone. There are so many great opportunities for young adults (and older ones too) that we do them a disservice to think getting a degree is the only way to get a good job.

I don’t believe that lives are at stake in making those choices. I really want my kids to go out and learn – however they learn best, at the place they want to learn, in the way they want to learn. And I hope they know that it is normal to be uncertain about their career or life aspirations. Some of us are still figuring it out. Take your time to decide who and what you want to be.

Even if it is to “just” be a stay at home mom – your future is your choice.

As Mike Rowe said, “Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.”

So here’s my question to you – what do you want to be when you grow up? Are you still figuring it out? Let us know in the comments!

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Jennifer Dodrill
Jen Dodrill is a Navy brat from a long line of Navy brats. Born in Virginia, she moved to the Florida panhandle in 6th grade. After vowing to never date a Navy guy, she moved to Nashville, TN where she met and fell in love with Eddie who was - you guessed it - in the delayed-entry-program for the Navy. They met in June, married the following February, and over 35 years later are still sweethearts. They moved back to West Tennessee in 2008 after his retirement. Jen stayed home to raise their 5 kids, and she homeschooled the youngest three. The “baby” graduated in 2020, but Jen refuses to bow to empty-nest syndrome! She teaches Oral Communication as an adjunct instructor for Dyersburg State Community College and blogs at Jen Dodrill History at Home. Jen also writes curriculum under History at Home at TeachersPayTeachers and Boom Learning! When she’s not working, she’s spending time with her kids and adorable granddaughters. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and her favorite place – Pinterest! You can also visit her site "History at Home" at www.jendodrillhistoryathome.com