What if we lived in a world where we weren't forced to choose a career?
We ask our children what we also asked of younger selves - what do you want to be when you grow up?
And sometimes we ask ourselves repeatedly and now.
The question alone suggests we live in a hyper-specialized world.
We have to choose something.
But it's not the choice that is problematic - it's the thing, and that there can only be one thing.
I want to be an astronaut.
I want to be a scientist.
I want to be a professor.
The fixation on the noun is the first issue. Largely it relates to the Western obsession with identity and that what we do dictates who we are.
What if, as author and artist Austin Kleon suggests, we figure out how to incorporate these concepts into doing rather than being.
Why couldn't you say something like:
Part of the week I want to read about astronomy and do crazy mini-experiments in my backyard; the other part is how I make money, which is by teaching elementary school children English. It sometimes is not enough money for my needs, so I also freelance write on the side.
Now that sounds so unglamorous, to break down the same nouns into practical interests.
What about the fulfilling pursuit of the dream of a career?
Figuring out how to incorporate multiple interests into your months and years leads to something better than a dream career: it leads to a life!
Let's say you're unconvinced. You still want a career that is strongly wrapped up in your identity.
I would argue that it is even more important for you to figure out how you can incorporate other interests, especially creative ones, into your life.
Lauren Valdez discusses how she enjoys working on dream projects instead of focusing on a dream job. The ultimate satisfaction in calling yourself a painter is too ego-based. Let it go and just paint. You can also elevate the status of the hobby into an ultra-hobby.
I would also argue that tremendous skill is required in figuring out how to do the things that bring us meaning and help us practically survive in the communities we want to thrive in.
It would be so much better if we lived in a world that was profession agnostic. Where we aren't forced to choose to be something, but can find enjoyment and fulfillment in doing a range of things that allow us to explore more of who we really are.