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When I Grow Up

I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—it just changed regularly.

At age 2, I was going to be a ballerina. By kindergarten, I was a future astronaut; second grade, a teacher; third grade, a ballerina again; and in the fourth grade, I was going to be a famous writer. In junior high and high school, I fully intended to get a degree in music. Ironically, I ended up studying computers at a school where they only offer science and technology-based degrees.

After realizing last year that “growing up” was actually happening, I hatched lofty plans for pursuing journalism through a top graduate program. For backup, I applied for normal jobs. I didn’t even know what I could do, but almost a year later, I’m working in technology in an investment bank, of all places.

The point of this rumination is not to make you think about my indecisiveness. You’ve likely experienced the same thing. You may have wanted to be in the circus (maybe you still do) … Instead, you found yourself studying psychology or chemistry or business. Then you graduated.

Or maybe that was six years ago, and you’re still not really sure what you want to do when you grow up. All you know is that what you’re doing isn’t what you were meant to be doing. You’re pretty sure Garden State is based on your life.

The plain fact is that most of us don’t have a clue, even after years of work and study. We know there’s this nebulous sort of idea of the “will of God” that we should follow, and people give us cards at graduation with little verses about God having wonderful plans for us and something about a hope and a future.

What to do?

Pray. A lot. It sounds like a cop-out answer, but we’re not told to “pray without ceasing” just because it sounds nice.

Ask people what they think you’d be good at—and don’t laugh it off when they first say it. Others may have seen something in you that you haven’t seen in yourself.

Or, you feel called to a field that is hard to break into, like art or theater. You might have to make your peace with the idea of doing something less glamorous to pay the bills (generally this translates to “waiting tables”). But don’t get stuck in a rut. Find a creative way to pursue your passion. If you want to be a writer, keep writing, even if you’re not signing book deals at age 24.

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This may seem self-evident, but if you loathe what you’re doing, then by all means, get out. Life is too short to spend in misery, and if you are miserable, it’s hard to be a willing vessel for Jesus’ use. He may be trying to push you out of your situation.

Don’t forget—God really does have a plan. It’s not something Hallmark made up to sell graduation cards. It is the real deal, a genuine promise from the Almighty Creator of the universe. It sounds pretty incredible when you think of it that way.

In the end, if something sounds great to you, go for it. My pastor used to say that God can’t move a parked car. He meant that when we sit in fear and indecision, we are paralyzed and not able to move where the Father asks.

Honestly? I still don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up. Someday I’ll probably leave the cushy desk job.

Maybe I’ll be an astronaut.

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