Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What do you want to be when you grow up?

By: Joelle Charbonneau

I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.  I thought I wanted to be a music theater and opera performer.  At least, that’s what I spent my undergrad and post-graduate schooling studying.  And I guess I actually wanted to do that since I did the professional singing, dancing, acting thing for a number a years.  While I bellowed arias and show tunes on stage, I also worked as a systems administrator and report analyst, which stretched my mind and pushed me to learn new things.  And somewhere along the way I started teaching and wow do I love it.  Helping students discover not only their singing voices, but confidence in themselves and their futures is a pretty amazing thing. 

Oh yeah – and now I write.  And I love that too.  Some days, the need to fill the blank page stresses me out.  There are moments where I wonder why I chose to sit behind a screen worrying about what comes next.  But I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

The funny thing is, I never took a college level English class.  I never took creative writing.  And I am a writer. 

I point this out because as a teacher, I work to help prepare my high school students for college.  The one thing that strikes me over the years is the notion that high school students have to *know* what they want to be when they grow up.   From the time students enter their freshman year of high school, there is a strange notion that they should be working toward a specific future goal.  Not just getting into college or having a happy future, but taking the right classes to get them into a specific college for a future they might not even want to have when they know more about it.

I *knew* what I wanted to do with my future when I entered college.  I wanted nothing more than to spend my life singing and dancing on the stage.  And I still love that.  But I have grown and changed and learned so much since those high school days.  I’m not longer that person.

So, I guess my point to this rant is that I hope we all work to encourage our children to study something they love.  To strive to learn things that matter to them because those are the things that shape their lives.  I believe that filling the soul is just as important as filling the mind.  When we fill both—amazing things can happen.

So---dare I ask?  What did you want to be when you graduated high school and what are you doing now?


  1. It is a very informative and useful post thanks it is good material to read this post increases my knowledgehgh

  2. When I learned to read I knew I would write. So, I figured that out at about age four.

    I stunned my husband when I said that I remembered when People Magazine first appeared and that Mia Farrow had been on the cover toying with a string of pearls (for The Great Gatsby) exactly because at that age, just 13, I became so interested in journalism that I devoured and even collected this new magazine--spending precious allowance money!--and told everyone that I was going to go to college to study journalism and write in some way, shape, or form.

    And, then I did. So, that's a little different than the back stories of some writers, but the same as others. The not-ha-ha funny part is that knowing it sooner or knowing it later seems to have no effect on the ease of or drive to do it! No matter how we come to the work, it's still work, right?

  3. I headed toward college wanting to study to be a teacher. I ended up teaching for 31 years and I loved most every minute of it. Dealing with adults was a lot harder than dealing with junior high students!!!
    I'm not surprised you sang and danced . . . you're wonderfully talented.

  4. I wanted to be a writer. Plain and simple. But I took a job in publishing because I also wanted to eat and have a roof over my head, something that writing what I wanted to write probably wouldn't provide at the time. I'll be 50 next year--still not grown up, though. Love this post, Joelle. Maggie

  5. I want to be an actor when I grow up. When I say "grow up", I mean retire from my day job.

    I didn't realize it until eight years ago, when my wife and I appeared on an episode of the MTV show "High School Stories", followed by extra work in an indie feature film. At the time, I had been acting in community theatre for around ten years. I watched the film actors and said to myself "I can do that." I guess I was right.

    Since then I have appeared in over 50 films, TV shows, educational videos, and commercials, and I have lead roles in two feature films and one short film in pre-production.

    I guess I'm a slow starter, given that I didn't start acting on-camera until after my grandson was eight years old. But it was worth the wait. Life is wonderful.

  6. All I ever wanted to be was a mom and a writer. I'm happy to say, I'm both.

    I'm a firm believer in dreams.

  7. I didn't want to get married--did right out of high school. Wanted to be an artist and live in an attic. Didn't do either. I never wanted to be a teacher, was a pre-school teacher for 13 years. Wanted to be a writer, but with five kids was busy raising them, doing laundry, cooking and cleaning. being PTA newsletter editor and president, ten years of being a Camp Fire leader. Always wanted to be a writer, but didn't get serious about writing until I was a grandmother. Never too late, I now have over 30 published books.

  8. I always wanted to be a writer, more specifically a novelist. But marriage and kids at a young age, and then the need to work/go back to school while working/take care of family took away the time for that, leaving me only bits and pieces of time. So I started writing poems, published poems, became a poet. It worked with a demanding job and family. Then, just as my youngest hit college, lupus and a slew of other chronic diseases hit my body, forcing me to leave the job I'd loved (as director of a university women's center). Loss of paycheck, loss of sense of professional self, loss of importance in the community and world, but gain of chunks of time to write novels. So finally, I came around to what I'd always wanted to do with my life.

  9. Loved this post, Joelle. So spot on!

    I always had more than one profession I wanted to be - two notable examples being an astronaut and a meteorologist, until I found out they involved so much math - but music was always at the forefront. I wanted to be a performer, a singer of some kind, and even went to college to get my degree in music. I devoted myself wholeheartedly to it, but by the end of my four years I was disillusioned. It no longer brought me any joy. So I took some time off before I made the commitment to attend graduate school, to make sure I was certain about what I wanted to do. Without all the stress from college courses, that's when I began reading again for pleasure, and rediscovered my love of writing. And the rest, as they say, is history.