This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”.
My daughter is in high school and she is constantly being asked what she wants to be when she grows up. I can see that it a very difficult question for her to answer. When I was in high school, I am sure that I had the same issue, I did not know what I wanted to do. There were some things that I thought were interesting, but to be when I grew up? When do you grow up? What makes you a grown up? A spouse? Children? Responsibilities? A mortgage?
What if you choose to never grow up? What does that mean? Does that mean you are irresponsible? Does your age mean that you have grown up? Does what you are able to do, or not do, mean you have grown up? Do we have to grow up?
Deciding what you want to be when you grow up sounds like a destination and once you get there, what do you do? I think there are very few destinations in life that you can get to and say you are done, and I mean done with life. I think we always have to be changing and moving in life.
Throughout high school, my father told me that I should be an engineer. I had no idea what an engineer was at the time, but as I started to look at universities, I started to see what an engineering program was and even then, there were many kinds of engineering to choose from; chemical, mechanical, electrical, civil, etc. When choosing a school to go to, I had two criteria; one, an engineering program, and two, go away to school.
When it came down to it, I had a choice between Penn St. and Purdue. I had chose Penn St. because it was a good school and knew some friends applying to it, and I applied to Purdue because it was free to apply. I was never told, but I think my grandmother had something to do with me applying to Purdue, because the application just showed up at my house one day.
The big difference between Penn St. and Purdue at the time was that at Penn St, I was in the engineering program and at Purdue, I was in the computer science program. I was too late to apply for the engineering program, but I could transfer after the first year, if I wanted.
In high school, when I was a freshman, the school got their first computer and I used much of my free time playing with the computer and in my senior year, I had an independent study class to write a program to keep the school’s attendance. So, when I sat with the decision of Penn St. vs Purdue, I felt that I was really enjoying this computer-thing, let’s give it a try and see where it takes me. I had no idea what a career in computers would be like, but it was an area that really interested me and I decided to go to Purdue.
I think there are people who know what they are going to be when they grow up, but I am not one of them. I am going with the flow of life and seeing where it will take me. Living where life will take you is good as long as you are doing those things that are important to you. As I look back on my life, there are times when I know I have made choices that were in sync with what I wanted out of life and there were times when I just let life take it from me, because of my lack of choice and that gets me back to “Purposeful Living”. “Purposeful Living” is making those choices that are in line with what you want out of life. I know it is not easy to do all the time and sometimes, life will sneak up on you and you will find yourself doing something that you really hate, like a dead end job that you have been doing for a few years while you were asleep at the wheel of life. It happens! Do not beat yourself up. Pick yourself up and make a better decision. You can always change and I mean always! Knowing that you are in a rut is halfway to getting out of the rut.
So, choose to live your life. Choose to grow up, if you want, and not to grow up, if that fits you, but you make that choice, do not let life make the choice for you! The next time somebody asks you what you want to be when you grow up, be free to tell them you do not know and then tell them where life is currently taking you, what is important to you, and what is purposeful to you.
For me, finishing this book is important to me. It is getting close. I am lining up an editor to review what I have written and finding out how to publish it. It is coming together and will be out soon. Thank you for all your support!