Adrianna Bohrer


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

We first hear this question around age 5. Everyone smiles and laughs at the incredibly imaginative answers that our creative little minds think up. The answers exuberantly escape our precious little lips with so much excitement that we tend to yell the answers out like we would spontaneously combust otherwise. I remember telling my dad I wanted to be a vegetarian -- I mean veterinarian. I always got those words mixed up. He supportively smiled and laughed a little to himself.

Fast forward some 15 years later and I found myself answering the same question. Sitting in a college classroom on the first day of class, my professor decided to do the dreaded self-introductions.

"Say your name, where you're from and what you want to be when you grow up," he said.

What I want to be when I grow up? I thought the answer was painfully obvious by the sheer fact I was enrolled in this business class. I want to be a business professional, of course.

Going around the room, the answers varied from accountant to HR manager to public relations personnel, all very business-like. As my turn was approaching, it donned on me; I didn't want to be any of those things. Not a single one. They all seemed so contrived, boring and very stiff in nature. Was I really about to introduce myself by telling everyone I wanted to be a small business owner? Yes, that's why my major is in the field of business. But no, that's not what I want to be when I grow up. So then I thought to myself why not tell everyone what I actually want to be when I grow up. Don't just follow suit and answer in the form on my intended career path or future job title. Be honest. Be courageous. Tell them the real answer.

Truth is I wasn't prepared for the real answer myself.

"What do I want to be when I grow up?" I thought. Well, truth is I just want to be a mom and a wife. That's it, plain and simple. Being a wife and a mom is my deepest desire and the ultimate reason I was put upon this earth. And no degree, job title, intended career path or well-intentioned answer can accurately represent this desire.

In the months following this encounter, I began to realize why it was so difficult for me to choose a major area of study in the first place. I started in exercise science, changed to English education, then journalism and finally settled on business. But I spent the whole first two years of college believing that I had to live and die by the major I chose, that this decision was going to determine who I was going to be for the rest of my life and that in it I was going to find my ultimate purpose and complete happiness. There could be nothing further from the truth.

While a college degree is an important endeavor in my life and participating in meaningful work essential to living an integrated life, I simply was not going to find my ultimate purpose in either of those.

Reflecting back upon this experience I am finally able to see that while I desire to be a small business owner someday, there is so much more to life than just the work I will do and the job I will have.

The rest of my class was almost through and my turn had arrived; I sheepishly answered that I wanted to start my own business someday. A sigh of relief followed accompanied by the bitterness of regret. How I wish I had said that I wanted to be a wife and a mom. The look I may have received would have been priceless, but more than that I would have been being completely honest. He didn't ask what kind of work I wanted to do when I grew up, or what sort of job I desired to have. No, he asked what I wanted to be when I grow up. And I want to be a wife and a mom.

The next time I am asked that powerful yet deceiving question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I vow to give an honest answer. One that truly reflects the person I want to be someday, and one that truly reflects the person I am today. And it will have absolutely nothing to do with any degree, job title, or intended career path, because what I do when I grow up has very little to do with what I want to be when I grow up.

Adrianna Bohrer is a freelance writer, personal trainer, and fashion enthusiast. She enjoys living a paleo lifestyle and keeping up with latest fashion trends.