What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

“I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about, and that’s what these clues help us to find within ourselves.” ~ Joseph Campbell

I ran into an acquaintance the other day during a long walk through the hills of the neighborhood near my home. She’s a stay-at-home mom. She was lamenting how, now that her kids are getting a little bit older, they don’t need her constant involvement. She said she felt a bit lost. She wasn’t sure what she should be doing, but was sure that she should be doing SOMETHING. She had even given herself a deadline to choose something, anything, before school let out for the summer. BC, she had a well-paid career in the tech industry. Although the pay was great and she was very good at what she did, she didn’t enjoy it. She said, “I don’t know who I am anymore or what I even like to do.” I could relate now that I’m verging on the empty nest.

Then I had a similar conversation with my mom. In retirement she’s exploring new activities and trying to figure out how to spend her time. She even has a friend who, as a certified life coach, is helping senior citizens figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. I laughed because I thought once one reached retirement; one would have all that stuff figured out.

We all go through different transitions in life, as we evolve from one stage to the next, that can sometimes leave us feeling adrift. So often, we place ourselves in roles that we think fit us at a certain place and time or that society thinks we should be in (it’s never good to have the should’s) only to find it’s an awkward fit or makes us unhappy. Then it occurred to me that people don’t spend enough time digging deep into themselves. They go through their days on autopilot, fulfilling the roles they’ve chosen without necessarily taking time to live as their authentic selves. Often, we feel guilty for performing the sort of self-care that brings us back to center and opens up the possiblity of who we are and who we might become. It’s important to step away sometimes, from jobs, children and partners for a bit of solitude to find what lights us up, to reignite that passion for a once favorite activity or to discover a new one.

I suggested to my friend that she take her new love of Pintrest, which she shared about, and create a vision or dream board of all the things that jump out at her. I also advised her to nix her deadline. You can’t rush the discovery of yourself.

“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” ~Steven Pressfield


13 thoughts on “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

  1. livvy1234 says:

    I find that by living in smaller increments of time,( one moment at a time) relieves me of the pressure to live my life (pitted against the ideal ) of who I should be and what I should be doing.

  2. yp says:

    Love this!!!

    • yp says:

      That is what I did two years ago…. I was unhappy at my job…..what matter the most to me was my family and quality of time and my job didn’t give me that! So I quit and started my own business which changed my life 500% !!! It brought back my own self that was hidden for so many years!!! I am all for changes in life that will improve and enhance your quality of life and your enjoyment and deep happiness… Whatever that might be for each person. Just try to find yourself and what moves you and go get it!

  3. Daniel says:

    I once heard someone say , “Find something you would die for, and then live for it.” It is one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard. We get trapped in commitments along life’s path, and they take us away from who were were meant to be. And we become what we are, and then that gains meaning. If you can be happy through it all, then that is a gift.

  4. Lia says:

    Love the post 🙂

  5. Bella says:

    Wonderful post! The other day, the Son had spent the night at a friend’s house. I walked into his room in the morning and was overwhelmed with grief as I realized that soon he will be moving out and living on his own. The thought of him leaving broke my heart. Nevertheless, they say that the effects of the empty nest are short lived and that this is the happiest time in a woman’s life. Not because her children are gone, but like you mention, because now she has time to find herself; to discover new interests and hobbies. Somehow this gives me hope that it won’t be as bad as I think! 🙂

  6. Kyle Kuns says:

    Joseph Campbell also recommended that you “follow your bliss”

  7. Peggy McCafferty says:

    Loved this! This is a common need among all of us, regardless of age. Life begins when we go beyond our comfort zone. This is your world — shape it or someone else will

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