Are you the person you dreamed you’d be?

when I grow upRemember back when we were kids, and someone always asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Did you have a clear picture and a quick answer? Back in the day, it was common to hear things like doctor, teacher, nurse, fireman (yes, we used to say fireman)…titles of occupations that were prevalent, and that presented a clear picture and distinction of duties. Entrepreneur was certainly not a word heard back then.

And the question itself begged a specific answer; a word that would paint a very clear picture of an occupation.

I think, perhaps, the more appropriate question is “What do you want to DO when you grow up?”

If I’d been asked the question that way, I probably wouldn’t have said, “I want to be a phys ed teacher”.

I would have said I want to teach people. I want to see them play and laugh and sing and smile. I want to be active, always learning new things. I’ll read books….LOTS of books. I’ll help people when they’re down, and congratulate them on their accomplishments. I’ll cry when I’m sad and laugh hysterically when I’m happy. I’ll hug (but only those people who want to be hugged:)

Am I the person I dreamed I’d be? I like to think so. And it isn’t because I became something as an occupation, but because I’m becoming something as a human being. And I don’t think we just “grow up”. We grow due to and in spite of, “up” in terms of years, “out” in terms of horizons, “through” in terms of challenges, and “always” in terms of the school of life.

When you reflect back on what you thought you’d “be” or what you thought you’d “do”, are you living the life you dreamed of, or has the dream changed? And if you’re not living your dream(s), why not?


  • Life, for instance

    Hi Kaarina,
    I always said I wanted to be a writer. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but I’m here! My next dream is to make money at my writing so it supports me, (why didn’t I think of that then – but hey! I believe that was implied!) 

    There was  book a few years back called “Do What You Are” and I think it had the idea down pact. We needed to know who we were in order to choose an occupation in life. That’s the only way we’d be happy in it.

    It sounds like you are living the essence of your childhood dream. We should teach children to set intention in that way, first helping them to know what makes them happy, and then guiding them towards different occupations which will fit the talents, skills, and lifestyles they aspire to.

    I was so excited for my daughter when she discovered her passion. Recently my son discovered his and I couldn’t be happier for him. It comes of knowing yourself – what you’d do for free, what you do anyway! :-) 

    Happy Monday!

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      That is an absolutely beautiful comment @twitter-228904159:disqus : Lori, you nailed it. When we teach children to set their intentions, to dream big, achievable dreams and to follow their bliss, I believe we set the stage for them to become happy, healthy adults. It’s when we try to pigeon-hole people into a box, a thing or a title that life can get very uncomfortable.

      I’m delighted to say I am living the essence of my childhood dreams. I was told I could do and be anything I wanted to be, and I maintain that spirit every day. And there’s nothing more rewarding than watching your children find their passion and grab their own brass ring.

      And as far as monetizing those dreams, there’s a book from the 80’s entitled “Do what you love the money will follow” that resonates to this day with the message of following your heart…the money will follow. Cheers! Kaarina

  • Patty Glassford Horton

    What a fabulous question to ask Kaarina!  Thanks so much for a fabulous Monday morning blog posting.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Delighted to see you here @0ae0c5ba4d67ea792c7a87360737e61b:disqus :) And happy to provide a little Monday morning musing. Cheers! Kaarina

  • Carolyn Nicander Mohr

    Hi Kaarina, I love this question! When I was a child I wanted to be a teacher. Well, I fulfilled my dream. I first became a lawyer, teaching my clients how they could structure deals, choose trademarks, acquire software, etc. Then I became a mom and taught my children how to tie their shoes and be nice to others. Now I am a writer teaching people about how fun and useful personal technology can be!

    Kaarina, I imagine you must be thrilled that you succeeded beyond your dreams!

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      @wonderoftech:disqus , we succeed beyond our dreams when we believe in them, DO something about them and learn from them:) Your post over at Kim’s place today is great! Cheers! Kaarina

      • Carolyn Nicander Mohr

        Thank you very much, Kaarina! :-)

  • Betsy Cross

    Funny little story: Kenny’s Kindergarten homework assignment: answer: “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
    I asked him the question as it was written.
    Kenny,”I just want to walk down the sidewalk, by myself, with NO parents!”
    The next day I asked, “What do you want to BE when you grow up?”
    “Geez! I just want to be a guy! Leave me alone!”
    That’s how he sees things! Love him..

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      I.Love.That! Out of the mouths of babes:) Thanks for sharing @twitter-286790484:disqus . Cheers! Kaarina

  • Colin Wright

    Believe it or not, when I was young, I wanted to be a chaos theorist. I loved the idea of figuring out equations for the world to explain how it all worked. I wanted a big picture view of everything that was happening so I could understand why.

    I didn’t end up becoming a mathematician of any flavor, but I did end up getting into branding and writing and consulting; three different fields that require a big picture view of things if you want to do your best work. I spend my life traveling and learning and adding to my collection of experiential equations so that I can better understand how it all fits together, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Like you, I think what one wants to ‘do’ is much more important than what one wants to ‘be.’ Aiming for a particular title or position can be so limiting, while figuring out a way to structure your life so that you can enjoy what you do leaves you wide open to aim for something else later on, if your priorities change.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      @exilelifestyle:disqus , you inspire me! I just took a quick glimpse of your site, and I’m a fan…will be back later to check it out in more detail. Your story is intriguing, your adventures amazing. There’s nothing finer than being able to say “I wouldn’t change a thing.” Bravo to you, and I look forward to getting to know you. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Cheers! Kaarina

  • Anonymous

    I thought I would be a professional athlete (still do). It was going to be football or baseball. I’m still trying to stay in shape in case I get the call….. 

    Unfortunately, and maybe this is just an excuse, I was a late bloomer. I really didn’t start to ‘grow’ until the middle of my 11th grade year. Needless to say at a school with over 2,000 kids that had just integrated with athletic black kids, I didn’t even make a name for myself in high school.

    As you can see, my mind was always preoccupied with ‘playing’ and I pretty much am still that same guy. That’s probably the main reason you never see me get too serious; I’m just a big kid at heart still. 

    I just kind of ‘fell’ into insurance and the sales side of it; but 30 years later I know I couldn’t have found a better fit for my skill set. In reality, I still do get to play a lot………..:) 

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      You are a “player”, my friend:) @bdorman264:disqus it sounds to me like you’ve found your niche, and your love of life and crazy-mad quick wit are what we so love about you. And hey…I’m putting in the call…hockey or lacrosse? Cheers! Kaarina

  • Tammy

    I never had a strong idea of what I wanted to be. I’d say things that I saw on TV – my grandma about had a heart attack when I told her I wanted to be a Go-Go dancer! – but nothing that really stuck.

    In high school I wanted to be a history professor, and I even started a PhD program in the field, but I quickly learned that it wasn’t for me.

    I’m still searching for what I want to be when I grow up. If Professional Student paid well, I’d do that in a heartbeat. I’m still in a state of flux, exploring interesting new avenues, and trying on careers for size before making the leap.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Experiment away @3c52b39662a421a77fe61b398b504af2:disqus :) Searching and seeking, experimenting and doing…that’s what will help you find your true path. Cheers! Kaarina P.S. I still have my gogo boots!

  • The JackB

    Not him yet but am working on it.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Luv ya @TheJackB:disqus :)

      • Erica Allison

        I’m with Jack…I’m still dreaming her up!

        • Kaarina Dillabough

          Keep dreaming and doing @EricaAllison:disqus :)

  • Stan Faryna

    My freshman answer to my high school journalism teacher was cocaine king. They had it all. I suppose a Russian oil oligarch is two grades better now since the iron curtain came tumbling down. [grin]

    Did I mention that she sent me to the principal’s office?

    Later, she accused me of being a plagiarist when I interviewed the VP of Porsche North America for my first interview assignment. He had to call her and tell her that I really did the interview.

    By college graduation, I was divided in my aspirations: college professor, a saint, a political force of nature, a science fiction author, and a MMORPG maker. I wanted it all. Such is naivete. [grin]

    At some point in graduate school, I decided to make a lot of money. I promptly left my treatise on civil disobedience unfinished and started making the money.

    Aspirations to be a saint, science fiction author, and MMORPG maker still tug at my heart…

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Your mind amazes me @faryna:disqus :) I shall prompt you ongoing on those aspirations;) Cheers! Kaarina

  • Shonali Burke

    Here’s the funny thing – I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. The one thing I hoped desperately for as a young person was – and some people might throw up their hands and scream at this – was to have a good husband. Of course, the more I looked for that GH, the further away he got… and when I stopped looking, he showed up.

    I don’t think I *really* started growing until my 30s. Of course, I was evolving and maturing all the time, but it was only then that I feel I really started coming into my own. And no, I’m not done. What I do know is that even if I don’t always know where I’m going, I do know where I’m NOT going, with much more conviction than ever before in my life.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Ah @Shonali:disqus , it’s like the chasing butterflies parable. If you chase butterflies, you will never catch one. But if you sit silently, not looking for them, they will alight on you. And I don’t believe we’re ever “done”, and if we think we are…we aren’t! Cheers! Kaarina

  • Jennifer Devitt

    I love these types of pieces from you!  Just like the one about taking time to really see things & appreciate them for what they are! I so love when you makes us think outside the box & feel! Thanks for that!

    I wanted to be a nurse and like @Shonali:disqus find a good husband (which thankfully I did in @sydcon:twitter ! I also wanted to be a Mom (which I was blessed to achieve 3 times).

    I also wanted to be a good person and lead a good life (not the high life, but a life I could be proud of).  I think like @TheJackB:disqus & @EricaAllison:disqus it is still a work in progress, but I’d like to think I am on the right track!

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Thanks so much @twitter-57542835:disqus for your very kind words and helpful feedback. As I play with topics for my posts, flowing between straight-up business type posts to more reflective musings, it’s so important to know what’s resonating with people. One can often tell by the comments, but thanks so much for your very clear feedback. I really appreciate it, and am encouraged to continue to help others “think outside the box and feel.”

      You are obviously on the right track, and we are all a work in progress. And hey…if/when you need that wine or single malt during the “teen” stuff, you know where to find me:) Cheers! Kaarina

  • Erin Feldman

    I meant to read this post yesterday and completely forgot. Better late than never, right?

    “Entrepreneur” wasn’t a word I knew as a kid. I knew I liked to write, and I liked to read. I can remember thinking I wanted to be a writer, but I forgot about that dream until I was in my second semester of college. I was taking a required literature course, and I suddenly remembered how much I loved reading and writing.

    The dream has changed some since I’m trying to help people become better writers or to help them understand social media. I am, in many ways, a teacher, which was never something I wanted to be. I do, however, like to share my passions with others, and I want them to appreciate that passion and possibly become passionate themselves. I suppose that’s why teachers sometimes become teachers. They have an overwhelming passion for something, and they want to share it with others.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Anytime is a good time to visit here @ErinFeldman:disqus . Glad you made it:)

      Your sharing of your skills and passion make you an excellent teacher Erin, and I think that most of us who are following our bliss are, in fact, teachers. And as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears:) Cheers! Kaarina

  • Anonymous

    What a wonderful post Kaarina!!  My favorite line is
     “We grow due to and in spite of, “up” in terms of years, “out” in terms of horizons, “through” in terms of challenges, and “always” in terms of the school of life.” 
    While I wasn’t one of those kids who “knew” what they wanted to be when they grew up, I knew certain things about myself.  I knew that I loved caring for people and that knowledge led me into the direction of my first career…nurse.  The career evolution that followed happened because I listened to my heart.  Some of the next phases in my life took a lot of bravery but the results were worth it.  I am making another transition in my “what do you want to be when you grow up” life right now as well.  The growing that occurs as a result of listening to your heart is priceless…scary sometimes, but so filled with possibility.  
    Thank you for a lovely post @kaarinadillabough:disqus you write so eloquently.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Thanks @socialmediadds:disqus  for that lovely compliment, and bravo to you for listening to your heart. Scary is OK too. When I was coaching elite athletes, even up to the Olympic level, I said if there wasn’t a level of “butteflies in the belly”, then they weren’t ready to perform.

      Wishing you well as you listen to your heart and continue to grow. Cheers! Kaarina

  • T. Shakirah Dawud

    You know how when you dream something and then it comes true it’s either overwhelmingly “more” or underwhelmingly “less” than what you dreamed? I think we dream about ourselves grown up the same way we dream about fairyland. We don’t understand any of it, so it’s pretty much whatever we like best at the moment. For me that meant a lot of different dreams. But somehow… I’m not necessarily who I “dreamed” I’d be, but definitely much closer to who I hoped I’d be, underneath the dream. Closer, but not quite there yet. 

    Not sure that makes any sense in English at all, but thanks for making me stop and think about it.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Happy always to create a pause in someone’s day to reflect @twitter-59802772:disqus , and you make perfect sense my friend. Cheers! Kaarina

  • Justin

    I am the person I have always been even though I may not be doing the work/ career that I thought I would.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Interesting…and you’ve piqued my curiosity so I will be taking a closer peek at your site. Thanks for dropping by, Justin-who-has-always-been:) Appreciate it! Kaarina

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  • Ann Jane

    I think I’m lucky.  I did everything I dreamed I wanted to do, work,play…and now retired!!!  More dreams to work on..Yipee!!

    • Kaarina Dillabough

       Yippee for you @facebook-1057956438:disqus . Dream, decide, do…that’s the ticket!