We just got back from keynoting at Thrive Conference and after talking all about how we got to where we are, this topic was on my brain: What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a kid, in elementary school, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Pretty normal, I loved animals like a lot of kids do. I even asked my dog’s vet if I could be an intern… when I was in fifth grade! Hahahah! Then I transitioned it to zoo keeper and then, most famously… a cat house designer. Yep. I had gotten a book about some guy who designed this insane house for his cats and that was immediately my new life goal.
Somewhere I guess I realized that was too niche and moved onto becoming a dancer. My mom was a dancer and actually a dance education major in college so surely I could do that! Except then I realized that I lacked pretty much all flexibility (and rhythm) so dance was just meant to be a hobby for me.
Perhaps way better than ANY of my career aspirations, Samantha wanted to be a weatherman because she “wanted to be able to track Santa.” Bahahahah!
I’ve been trying to send Arlo subliminal messages by putting on dance videos while he’s eating so that he becomes a professional dancer like those cool kids on YouTube and lives my dream. 😉 No, but I’m honestly so excited to see all the careers he thinks up for himself.
With all that said, I’d love to know… what did you want to be when you grew up?? Any crazy career aspirations as a kid?? Or did they come true!? Are you doing anything even semi-related to it or something COMPLETELY different? Leave a comment below!
Erin Maree says
This is a good question especially as I have just gone back to study! I wanted to be a hair dresser, then a florist, then a vet nurse or a vet, then working in childcare, then reception/office administration work I did work experience in a local government office which I loved in my last year of high school. So after school I went to what I think is your community college equivalent, TAFE to do a cert. 3 in business (which was 6 months) and got a job then lost it after 2 days due to panic attacks and had to take some time out to get treatment as they were so severe (I also have anxiety) and was advised I couldn’t work part time due to anxiety and panic attacks. I got a part time reception job at a music school for 12 weeks then a month of temp work in local government removing staples out of building plans to scan in (easiest money ever). Eventually I got my dream job as a customer service officer where I did work experience but after 6 months it just wasn’t for me and making my anxiety really bad. It’s actually been 2 years since I left so at the end of last year I decided to enrol back in TAFE to do a cert. 4 in IT and I lasted 1.5 days there before having a major panic attack and realising that it wasn’t for me. I met with a careers counsellor on campus and they advised me to do a cert, 4 in Community Services as I do a lot of volunteer work in that sector and I am loving it. I honestly thought at 23 I would have a stable job and not be studying but my life has never been straight forward and I am loving what I am studying. I guess my current dream job is something helping people, potentially in local government or in the mental health sector.
I also want to keep writing (I have a blog and have had a few article published on the website The Mighty) and potentially write a book at some point.
Sorry for the long story!
What a roller coaster! I hope this certification goes well!
What a journey you have been through!! Sending you all the best for your newest adventure. I think working in anything where you’re helping people would be so rewarding!
I wanted to play tambourine in Bruce Springsteen’s band. 100% only goal as a child.
I wanted to be an astronaut. I’ve always been fascinated with space, the stars and planets. (I still vote Pluto as one!). I’m not sure what happened between 5 and 30…now I’m a graphic designer, funny how life works out! When they start booking trips to the moon, I’m there.
Haha! I’m the opposite and always think “What am I going to do if we all have to go to space some day? I’m not going.” HHAHAHA!
I wanted to be an interior decorator! I don’t remember why I decided not to pursue that. I ended up as a teacher, which I wanted to become during HS. I still haven’t decided if that’s what I officially want to stick with.
Samantha was a teacher before working for us! I have to say, I hired her because I knew that if she could handle 25 first graders, she could probably handle the insanity that is my career! So many good skills you learn as a teacher, whether it’s what you want to do long term or not!!
The ONLY thing I ever wanted to be was an artist, and now I’m a graphic designer… so that’s kind of the same thing?
Yes!! That’s so awesome!
I went through an Ally McBeal phase where I wanted to be a lawyer but quickly realized it was probably NOTHING like it was on the show … which is a good thing because I’m a graphic designer now and would’ve made an awful lawyer.
When I was 5, I wanted to be a real estate agent since I always wanted to tour other people’s homes. Then I wanted to be a radio DJ, record producer, graphic designer, professional traveler, and surfer. So I did all of those jobs in my college years, and then I graduated college. And now I’m a full time real estate agent!
OMG so cool!!! Love that you’re actually doing what you said when you were that young!
Kimmie Rodriguez says
I wanted to be a teacher or a dancer growing up. Now, my creativity has shifted into a storyteller, more specifically an actor and a screenwriter!
Pepi Rodriguez says
When I was a kid I most definitely wanted to be a singer. My mom would help me do my makeup on weekends and I’d perform my parents. When I say makeup, i mean full face, character makeup 😂 I attended an art high school and being just a pop singer transitioned to wanting to be a broadway star. During high school I got super into psychology, criminal psychology, and all of those homicide shows on ID. I was determined to work with victims of domestic violence and went on to get my degree in forensic psychology. But I couldn’t keep the creativity away for long because now I’m a jewelry designer!!
Oh my gosh! Plot twist!! Haha! This is awesome.
When I was very little I wanted to be famous, so singing, dancing, acting or fashion design each took a turn as my best option. Then around 11 I decided I wanted to write concert reviews for Rolling Stone magazine. My mom would only buy me the magazines when she felt the cover was appropriate (which I guess she didn’t often feel like it was). Finally I was old enough for my own subscription, then the movie Almost Famous came out and confirmed my dream! I even started college with a journalism major. But by the end of my Freshman year I realized I wouldn’t be reviewing Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith so gave it up for a “practical” degree, which I only used for a few years before realizing it’s not for me. Still trying to figure it all out, but my mom says grown ups always ask kids what they want to be because they’re looking for better ideas haha! Or we could all take a note from my kid brother, who wanted to be a snowman when we lived in the mountains!
“Grown ups always ask kids what they want to be because they’re looking for better ideas” OMG I love your mom. I’m totally using that!!!!
Also, love your brother. Basically your family is awesome. Haha!
Thanks 🙂 I’m pretty darn fond of them!
I always wanted to be a wedding planner. Even as a kid, I died over bridal magazines, wedding shows, gowns, etc. At some point I decided that wasn’t legitimate enough (what?!?!) and went to law school. Fast forward to now, I have my law degree, I have an awesome job at a big company with tons of perks and I have my wedding planning business on the side! Who says you can’t be more than one thing? : )
Heck yeah!! Best of both worlds!!
My career aspirations went from ballerina, to dolphin trainer (still mad at myself for not pursuing this one), to writer or lawyer (because hello, Legally Blonde) and right now I’m finishing up my PhD in chemistry and hoping to teach at the college level, definitely nothing close to what I wanted to do growing up!
I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer. I took dance classes when I was in elementary school until I was about 22. I loved it. But I learned the dance world is very competitive and not everyone makes it. I ended up working in the medical field instead.now I’m a stay at home mom.
I want to be a fashion designer 👩🎨
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a farmer and live with my parents for the rest of my life. I had some pretty thought out plans about where all the animals would go. Then we moved and my hopes were dashed. I moved on to wanting to be a lawyer (arguing for a living seemed right up my alley), but eventually realized that law school seemed like a lot of work. Since graduating from college I have worked as a victim advocate and love it. Still in the criminal justice realm, but without the pant suites 😉
I still have a fallback plan of moving to the Swiss Alps and becoming a goat herder if things ever go south (I was a little obsessed with Heidi as a kid).
OMG, I was such a Heidi nut as a kid! I watched the Noley Thornton movie legitimately every day for almost a year.
I wanted to be a singer, teacher & nurse. I am terrible at all three & am a stationery designer & printer now! Letterpress found me & I’m forever grateful! I went to college for graphic design, had a taste of Letterpress, got my first adult job, it sucked, started my own business! I’ve been in it for almost a year & I haven’t looked back!
Chelse Willis says
I loved reading all these responses! THRIVE was amazing and loved your session. I wanted to be a clothing designer and teacher. Teaching was the chosen profession, but that only lasted 7 years. Now, I stay at home with my 3 boys and work from home doing what I love more. I’m able to be creative while taking care of my family! Win win!!
I love that!! And thank you!!!! We had so much fun being a part of the conference!
My brother and I had this grand plan that he would fly an airplane and play piano, and I would teach dance lessons on the airplane while he flew/played. In this grandiose scenario, our passengers were all seated upside down from the ceiling of the plane.
Brenna Malmberg says
I wanted to be a dog walker. My mom still has the drawing I made in school showing me walking alllll the dogs. Other kids had lofty elementary school dreams. Me? Just walking dogs was good enough. We had tons of animals growing up, so that’s where my love of animals came from. Today, I still love pets, but my husband I don’t actually have one. Instead, I live vicariously by writing about pets at work and following lots of cute dogs on Insta, including Bella, of course.
I wanted to be an oceanographer SO BAD! Deep sea exploration seemed like the raddest career around. Then, in 8th grade, I went to oceanography camp (yes, this exists!) and realized I am deathly afraid of the ocean. So….. 😉
I wanted to be Sailor Moon when I grew up, or any of the Sailor Scouts. Then after that, it changed every year. Singer, mother, artist, actress, dancer, teacher…I remember being confused about why we could only choose one.
When a kid I wanted to be a mall gift wrapper. I could sit and watch them forever.
This never came to be, but I still love the exactness of wrapping perfectly square objects 😛
OMG one of my fave responses. That’s the BEST! My aunt actually was one!! She still wraps the most amazing gifts.
In high school and college, I worked as a gift wrapper in toy stores before Christmas and I LOVED it. In one of the stores, they gave us a wrapping course before we started and let us do really fancy designs. To this day, I love gift wrapping and think of it as my fall-back carreer (I now have a PhD and work in research).
my dad loves telling the story of my answer to this question. I was probably in first or second grade when I told him, “I want to be a doctor or a waitress, because they both help people!” Ohhhh the practical innocence of a child. I now work in marketing, but my passion is still helping people and I find volunteer opportunities to fulfill that need 🙂
Leslie Gutierrez says
anything with files.
i love filing.
ITS ALL I WANT TO DO!
organizing stuff, and making sure all the paperwork is correct.
i got promoted at my job so they took that away from me and it was a sad (ish) day lol
but i just want to organize all of the files.
i dont even have a specific field, i just want to file.
L O L !!!!!!
Hilarious! I also wanted to be a veterinarian. So much so that I volunteered at one for a long time. Growing up in a military family made me want to travel and I thought I could travel around in a van helping animals. haha. I then transitioned into wanting to be a rockstar (and travel) and create.
Now I am working on creating my dream career. Traveling photographer!
Growing up, I wanted to be a gemologist because I loved rocks. In junior high, I decided I wanted to be an architect instead. I ended up arbitrarily choosing psychology as my major in college because that’s what my sister majored in! LOL. I became really interested in it however and went on to get my PhD. It took me 9 years to get it though and somewhere along the way I lost interest. Living in LA, I got bit by the screenwriting bug so now I’m pursuing that alongside my pencil biz! 😉
Kristina B says
Jennnaaaaaa I know who THIS is!! <3
When I was four, I wanted to be an opera singer. I made my parents listen to the classical music and opera station on the radio in the car always and I would go around the house singing (read: screeching) at the top of my lungs. As it turns out, I can’t sing at all, but I do still like to stop on the opera station while driving occasionally. Now I’m pursuing a Masters in Social Work!
As a kid, I had this really specific career path in mind after I asked my dad why there were no girls in the NHL. I think his answer was something about men being bigger than women, and potentially getting hurt? Anyhow, I decided I would be the first. I was going to take gymnastics, then ballet, then figure skating and when I finally got to hockey, I would be able to leap over all the male players who were bigger than me!
I got about as far as somersaulting in gymnastics and got a real beautiful tutu before it became apparent I wasn’t exactly athletically inclined.
My dreams later changed to novelist, nutritionist, then working in international development (which is what my degree is in). Somehow I ended up being a communications specialist in agriculture, which I love. It was a happy day when I realized they pay me to write and 10 year old me would be so proud!
I hardcore wanted to be an astronaut right into highschool!! Then decided I was actually afraid of space and decided I wanted to be a nurse. Now I’m an ER nurse and love every minute of it!!
This is the honest truth…my grandma drove me to piano lessons one day in 7th grade and asked me on the way where I wanted to go to college. I turned to her and said; “ninny, I’m not going to college, I’m going to wrestling school!!!!” More than anything I wanted to be in the Ring body slamming people. Even better, my persona was going to be a ‘sexy’ nun…:)
I wanted to be a window display designer, a Barbie designer, an Irish Dancing teacher and a sewing pattern designer. I taught dance for awhile, but never found time to get certified, and wound up stopping dancing shortly after I got married. (My shins love me more for it!) I used to sew miniature Barbie fashions and make my own dance costumes. my mom talked me out of studying fashion, and I studied graphic design instead. I eventually wound up being a mom and doing graphic design and marketing for a photo gallery. I’m lucky enough to have a flexible job so I can be with my kids.
If I ever get a chance to change careers, I want to get back into something with sewing or food photography.
When I was really little (like 3) my dream job was a trash collector because I wanted to ride on the back of a garbage truck. After that the only thing I ever wanted to be was a mom.
Chelsey G says
Ahh I wanted to be a wedding dress designer! But my parents told me that wasn’t a real job. So then I thought I’d be a lawyer. But I ended up hating my program so I switched majors. Thought I’d be a teacher next. That didn’t pan out either. Still deciding what I want to be when I grow up! Haha
Sarah Leigh says
I wanted to be a Princess Vet (so basically a princess that was vet). After that I was determined I would be a dolphin trainer. My mom visited her sister in Charleston and brought me a dolphin necklace and I about died. Now at 26 I want to own a U-pick farm with alpacas, chickens, goats and any other adorable animals :).
I am currently a graphic designer, which is fun, but no animals!
I wanted to be a sign language interpreter for the UN! LOL. ASL was our language in elementary school and my mom said if I worked at the UN, I would not only get to sign but I could dress fancy and be on TV! 😂😂 I am now a UX designer but I do still practice ASL 🤟
Irelynn S says
I just read back into a letter I wrote in the 6th grade and I wanted to be lawyer? Haha I don’t know why! I assume
I wanted to be it because they make a ton of money and being doctor definitely wasn’t my calling since I loathed science! Then in middle school I wanted to be a marine biologist. The science stuff bored me but I have always had a fascination with the ocean and have always felt comfortable like I was one with it. But still, science. Sooo that didn’t pan out. In high school I was incredibly well at stage management (and I still do that as a side hustle, today!) But not something I supposed you go to college for and make a career out of for me.
Still a creative today and will now be majoring in Design and Communications to help businesses stay on brand. I suppose the internet (Instagram) raised me!
Lauren Cox says
As a little girl (like younger than the age of 10) I wanted to be an open heart surgeon. Weird choice for a child right??? My mom said I would tear apart my stuffed animals and stitch them back up again after their “surgery”. It was when my sister fell and busted her lip that I passed out and realized it wasn’t my calling because I couldn’t handle the small amount of blood. I’m not a buyer for Dillards department stores!
Lauren Cox says
I’m now a buyer**
Ahitza zepeda says
When I was smLler I wanted to be a vet,then a makeup artist, and now I’m in between a fashion or an interior designer.😀😂
Ahitza zepeda says
Auto correct *smaller*
As a child, I wanted to be anything my mom suggested ie doctor, nun, nurse…lol. For the longest time, I dreamed of becoming a florist. It wasn’t meant to be. I don’t have the patience or the design vision. But then I became a nurse, per my mom’s agenda, and now am the CEO of my own skincare business! And a mother, most importantly 😘
Love this Kelly!!
l actually always wanted to be a cardiologist…like up until my junior year in highschool..that was the plan. I had open heart surgery when I was a baby and absolutely adored my cardiologist. I even invited him to my high school graduation (he graciously wrote back that he couldn’t make it but was so proud). Naturally I just knew I’d work with him when I grew up. What I didn’t know at the time was that it would take me until the end of 11th grade to realize blood made me squimmish! (Paging Dr. Shae for a heart transplant…ummmmm..will there be blood?) OOPS! I guess it’s time for all that drawing and sewing to come into play! Looking back I have zero regrets about this creative detour – I’m still glued to any show about human anatomy, just now I’m watching with a sketch book in hand, planning out a bedroom.
Both of my parents are college anatomy professors but I always wanted to be like the pop stars on tv and had no interest in science. My mum would watch Holby City (like the U.K. Version of ER?) and I would sneakily watch it from the top of the stairs when I was supposed to be in bed. One Christmas I asked for one of those anatomy models teachers use to point out the organs, and my parents were so excited bc they thought this meant I wanted to be an anatomy professor like them. I got the anatomy model, proceeded to put it on a wheely office chair, held an unplugged lamp as the IV drip, and pushed the chair up and down the hallway like a hospital bed and yelling “he’s losing oxygen!” like the characters on the show. My parents describe it as the funniest moment bc they realized I just wanted to be an actor and had no interest in the science behind it all 🙂 that was pretty long but this post reminded me of it so I called my parents and we have been laughing about it all morning, so thank you for bringing some smiles to our day!!
As every kid, I also wanted to be a veterinarian. Still an animal lover with lots of pets.
When I was 11 I found out Neopets and there I started learning CSS and HTML from doing pets pages. There used to be forums where we all teach each other web languages. Later I found out web designer bloggers and fell in love with the idea! Now I’m 23 and work as a web developer (I’m not creative enough to be a good designer) and I love it.
Back then no one in my small town in a Portuguese island knew what the hell web designing was but look, I made it!
I wanted to be a professional figure skater, by this I mean I wanted to be like Nancy Kerrigan. Im spanish, so my parents never took me to the ice skating rink.. and when I finally did go, the risk of falling was way too high! 😂 So i never learned to ice skate. So that was the end of my Olympic career! 😂#90sdreams
I wanted to be a cake baker! But I cannot decorate a cake if my life depended on it 😂I tried to make my son’s 1st birthday smash cake and it was an ultimate disaster! We had to pick up a last minute cake from the grocery store. I ended up becoming a meeting/event planner instead!
Kristina B says
I always wanted to do something artistic. I loved paper. And I had an entrepreneurial streak very young. Sooooo HMMMM haha
I love your career journey! Mine is actually not too dissimilar. As a small child I didn’t want to be the usual princess, nurse or vet No I wanted to be an interior designer 🙂 during high school I did switch to vet and even interned at my local practice where they trained me up as an assistant. During the vetenarian university open day I took a dislike to the study so I switched to fashion collage and ended up working as a makeup artist for 10+ years before making the switch to DIY blogger and author a few years back. You can say I sort of went full circle back to the interior dreams I had as a toddler 😁
I wanted to be Vanna White! I’m still waiting for that job to open up, ha.
Jen Kessler says
I wanted to be some kind of entrepreneur of some kind and…….I’m still working on that one!! Something creative, involving lots of my creative adventures.
Floral Collage Prints
Lindsay S. says
I also wanted to be a vet when I was younger! And not just like, every kid likes animals and wants to be a vet, but I was obsessed with being an “animal doctor” at a very young age. When I was three I got a vet kit with my name on it and a little stuffed cat (that I think I still have somewhere!), and it continued until I got to high school – I even did a job shadow my sophomore year at an animal hospital and watched them do surgery and stuff! My dreams were dashed when I realized how horrible I was at math and science… I knew there was no way I could get through all the schooling required.
Anyway, I ended up going into event planning, then communications, and now I work in marketing for a wedding venue, so all my other skills kind of did end up coming into play. I do love what I do but I also sort of wish I could be a blogger who has more control over the content I’m creating. But who knows! (And I still love animals, I just direct all that love now towards my pup.)
I wanted to be a costume designer! Ever since I heard about Party City, that’s what I wanted to be.
In elementary school my sister wanted to be a pickpocket when she grew up.
She works in communications now and, as far as I know, has abandoned her criminal aspirations. 🙂