What Did You Want To Be?

The other day, I had the urge to change my desktop wallpaper. I usually do this every couple of months (even though I usually have so many windows open on my computer that I never see my desktop, but I digress). I was casually looking at a collection of wallpapers when I came across some that were illustrations of outer space. Depictions of planets, stars, asteroids, nebulas, and black holes. As soon as I saw these pictures, I heard the same thing that I hear whenever I see pictures like these:

What do you want to be when you grow up?”

You see, I’m sure we all remember being asked this question many times during our childhood. The world was rich with possibility and potential then. We could be anything we wanted. Some wanted to be scientists, singers, doctors, sports players, police officers (just kidding, I lived in a black neighborhood), engineers, politicians, or lawyers. But I wanted to be an astronomer.

The mystery of the universe always fascinated me. Maybe its just the Aquarius in me, but Earth has always felt too small. It started as an interest in science fiction movies and tv shows. Futuristic spaceships whizzing about the galaxy, using their warp drive to travel at light speed, shooting enemy vessels with laser beams and photon cannons, and exploring strange worlds. Then my interest manifested into an awe about the beauty and infiniteness of space and a respect for its power and mystery.

During the summer before 8th grade, I was accepted to participate in a summer program that was pretty much a summer camp for nerds. Kids got to spend 10 weeks on a college campus and take an upper-level course of their choosing. I naturally chose the Astronomy course they were offering. It was an awesome experience because it provided me with my first in-depth look into astronomy. I learned about the life of a star, the strength of a black hole, the vastness of our universe, and the physics behind it all. I learned about this environment that covers our planet. This environment where millions of truly amazing and breathtaking phenomena occur. Phenomena that are physically impossible on our little planet. Space is a place where the “impossible” is often shown to simply be the “improbable”.

But during high school, my dreams of being an astronomer fell by the wayside. There weren’t any astronomy courses that I could take & our physics class barely touched on the subject of stellar bodies. Instead, I became interested in computers and programing, which had its own track of courses. After that I majored in Computer Engineering in undergrad & am currently enrolled in a PhD program studying Bioengineering. I enjoy what I’m studying now & feel passionate about the impact that my research will have, but my interest in the cosmos remains as bright as it was before. LaLa’s post yesterday also had me thinking about alternate career choices. How different things might have been if my interest in astronomy had been nurtured more.

Anyway, as a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? And I’m not talking about in the 2nd grade when you wanted to be a Power Ranger or Cinderella. What was your first serious career goal? Are you still interested in that career goal or have you moved on? Zip it up and zip it out.



12 thoughts on “What Did You Want To Be?

  1. I always wanted to be a professional sports team owner. I was never the most athletic person, so since I had a passion for sports and enjoyed watching them I wanted to own the team. Now that I’m older and a lot more “realistic” I really don’t think I’ll be able to complete my dream unless some great fortune is bestowed upon me sometime during my life.

    But hey who knows, right

  2. Good Post TDA. LaLa’s joint had me thinking yesterday too. I wanted nothing more than to be helicopter pilot or a soldier in the Army. I was always into aircraft, how they worked, and what they were capable of but I for some reason helicopter grabbed my attention. I don’t have the math chops to be an aviator but I did speak with a few recruiters about Officer’s school but I never finalized anything. I met this cutie pie with whom I wanted to be. I wasn’t going to put her through the stressors of that kind of a life. Best choice I’ve made in some time too!

    • That’s awesome how you put Moneypenny before your military goals. Glad it was the right choice too!

      I was slightly interested in aviation as well. More so because if I couldn’t be amongst the stars, then being in the sky was close enough (sounds like a poorly-worded motivational poster).

  3. Great post. It’s funny that I’m reading this in the midst of looking for my first job.

    Since the age of three, I have wanted to be a broadcast journalist. Not necessarily the typical career aspiration of a kid. I don’t know where that hunger came from initially, but I do remember always being intrigued by the news and media in general: what is considered news and what’s not, how long issues are deemed newsworthy, who or what gets to speak on newsworthy topics, and how new media technologies help shape the conversations about news. Then, when I got old enough to understand the monstrosity of Oprah’s media empire, I wanted to be that, too.

    Needless to say, I’m still very interested in that goal, and I’m proud to say that for the most part, I have nurtured that dream actively since high school: from reporting for the school news paper to getting a Master’s in Media Studies. In some ways, I’m surprised since I get bored/distracted easily, but I know this is truly my passion because I have stuck with it for so long (and not just because I got degrees and real time and money invested in it). Now, my goal has shifted a bit from just being an anchor to being a multi-media mogul. I’m still thinking of a master plan. Rakim. Step one: find a job. LOL.

    Thanks for posting this. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the goals, dreams, and aspirations we had as kids before the worries and stresses of “real life” place filters and limitations upon what we want to do and what we THINK we can do.

    • Wow, since the age of 3? The news was boring to me at 3. I think I wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle when I was 3. Really, 3?? LOL

      That’s really cool though. Glad that you’ve been able to nurture that goal and see it mature. Now when I complain about the media, I won’t be judging people I don’t know.

      “Sometimes we need to be reminded of the goals, dreams, and aspirations we had as kids before the worries and stresses of “real life” place filters and limitations upon what we want to do and what we THINK we can do.”

      Word life.

  4. I just want to know what is going on with your Twitter :).

    Oh, and great post. I’ve wanted to be a number of different things. At first I was certain I’d be a writer and then my dream was to be a lawyer. I still would love to be a lawyer, but life got in the way. Maybe one day :).

    • I couldn’t be a lawyer. I respect them for what they do, but that’s not me. I know it isn’t as easy as just saying “I want to be a lawyer”, but if you still have an interest in it, do what you need to to work towards that or something similar. “Follow your dreams” and all that sh*t.

      “I just want to know what is going on with your Twitter”

      Yeah, it had to go. At least for a while. I’m reprioritizing some things in my life and Twitter was a distraction that I couldn’t afford.

  5. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be everything that I wasn’t supposed to be (a firefighter, a police officer…) and nothing that I was supposed to be (a teacher, a nurse…).

    When I got older, I decided I wanted to be a politician. But not just any politician, THE politician (U.S. President). But I changed my mind about that, too…decided I’d let somebody else have a shot at it 😉

    Now, all I wanna be when I grow up is happy.

    • “When I was a little girl, I wanted to be everything that I wasn’t supposed to be (a firefighter, a police officer…) and nothing that I was supposed to be (a teacher, a nurse…).”

      It’s always interesting when you see kids go outside of the common gender roles. Although in general, it’s more acceptable for women to do this than men.

      “…decided I’d let somebody else have a shot at it ;)”

      And we thank you for it 😉
      Unless of course, your deference led to Bush II being elected.

  6. I thought I’d never run across someone else who wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. j/k…I used to want to be an astronomer also. Like you said, when high school came around, there were no courses for it. It made me think astronomy wasted my entire childhood. Dude, I can look in the sky and point out damn near every constellation…in every season, right now. Every night, I make sure I look up and ID something, just to keep the skills up. I guess in case of a pending tragedy threatening mankind, where Obama needs one black guy to be able to identify something in the sky. Other than that, it’s a useless parlor trick. Unless I can find an equally nerdy lady-friend.


  7. “And I’m not talking about in the 2nd grade when you wanted to be a Power Ranger or Cinderella.”

    Um, EXCUSE you, but I’m STILL yearning to be Mileena when I grow up. Maneater swag.

    Other than that, yes I’d say I’m still interested in the career I wanted when I was a kid. Well, interested-ish. Basically, I’ve always wanted to be a writer ever since I learned how to write. Hell, even before then. I was always inside my head… constructing my imagination. What changed is not the career, but the sub-category of the career. I’ve wanted to be every type of writer… general author, novelist, poet, then there was that one time I wanted to be a surgeon and then in high school I found my love for film and writing was able to be one: Screenwriting. Cut to today and I’m still in love with it. And still awaiting that moment when I’ve truly… grown up.

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