‘All my life, I always wanted to be somebody. Now I see that I should have been more specific.’ Jane Wagner.

09 Jun

How old were you the first time someone asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Five?  Six?  Younger?  Do you remember what your answer was?

I don’t.  At least I remember being asked the question but I don’t remember whether I had an answer.  Rethinking that question today, some fifty-something years later, it occurred to me that nothing much has changed.   I still don’t know what my answer would be.

We often hear people state, with absolute conviction, “I knew when I was 5 years old I wanted to be a fireman / doctor / pilot / soldier / actor / writer (insert preferred career path here)” and that is what they went on to become.  They never wavered in their conviction.  These people are (rightly) admired for their dedication and passion towards their chosen careers—but where does that leave the rest of us?  What about those of us who never really wanted to ‘be’ anything in particular?

I never had any clear picture of what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I am sure when I was younger I entertained the possibility of a number of potential careers. Perhaps I would work with animals . . . or do something with my art . . . or go into journalism . . . but no.  There were too many choices and I never seemed able to pick ‘just one’ and stick with it.  Which was a problem, because we were always being encouraged to do just that.  What are you going to do?  What are you going to be?  What was once a simple little fun question full of exciting possibilities became a more serious anxiety-inducing question requiring a practical answer.

But I couldn’t do it.  And it bothered me—for a long time.  I was always so sure (because I was always being told) that flitting from job to job, place to place, interest to interest, was not the way I was supposed to be. I never felt like I quite measured up.

But you know time passes and I eventually came to accept that I was never going to be able to choose just one thing.  I’m just not built that way.  And that’s okay.  Over the last 40 year (yikes—40 years—how did that happen?) I have served in the armed forces and worked in retail, the media, health care, finance, business and education. I may not have specialised in any one thing in particular, but I learned a lot of skills and gained a lot of experience.  No regrets.

I also came to realise that, in spite of the pressure to be otherwise, there are millions of people out there just like meunableor unwillingto commit to one single choice, and instead choosing to try many different things. And guess what?  There is even a name for people like us (and not a rude one either)—Multipotentialites‘. Multi-potential-itea person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life.  How cool is that?

If any of what I have said here has struck a chord and you’d like to know more, check out a fabulous Ted Talk by Emilie Wapnick where she outlines the merits . . .  and the need . . .  for people like us.

My choices and I feel totally vindicated . . .


Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Uncategorized


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9 responses to “‘All my life, I always wanted to be somebody. Now I see that I should have been more specific.’ Jane Wagner.

  1. Judy

    June 12, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Ditto Sal…apart from the stint in the military. I toyed with that idea mind, but my mother said I would be in the Guard House on my first day for answering back! Moi?!


    • sallyinthehaven

      June 12, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Not gonna lie – was in trouble with the army at least once or twice for speaking my mind – my demob papers labelled me (among other things) ‘an outspoken young woman’. If only they had known how often I had actually held my tongue . . . 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Judy

        June 12, 2017 at 12:28 pm

        Something tells me we are ‘birds of a feather’ I am not playing Dorian though!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. stevetalbot51

    June 10, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I certainly hope not!
    PS – I can empathise with you in regard to career choice – I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up – probably a Parks & Wildlife ranger, or a landscape gardener, or a sports journalist/commentator, or a wine-maker or ……….. even a full-time professional retired person (one day) 🙂
    In the meantime I am very content being an Admin Officer and General Program Co-Ordinator thank you very much!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. stevetalbot51

    June 10, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Hmmmm Sal, is this your way of telling us you will be resigning soon to realise some more of your multipotential?


    • sallyinthehaven

      June 11, 2017 at 7:52 am

      Er . . . nope!! I am nothing if not pragmatic and I am very aware of the need to pay the rent, and the bills, and feed the dogs . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pam Talbot

    June 9, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Sal, you were ahead of your time! 91% of Generation Y (born between 1977 & 1997) expect to change jobs every 3 years! (Yes I googled that!) & without delving too deeply, I would imagine the job changes would not necessarily be in the same career. So there! You were on to something! 👍

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jon

    June 9, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    A sustainable life around ALL of your passions- sounds good to me. Emile’s book ‘how to be Everything’ looks good too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sallyinthehaven

      June 10, 2017 at 7:25 am

      I’ve ordered the book for my kindle – will let you know what it’s like. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


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