As far back as my memory can reach to my childhood, I recall constantly being asked what I want to be when I grow up and to this day my answer is not confirmed. Throughout grade school my answer would change monthly: one month I would go from having a deep desire to be a marine biologist because I was fascinated by a field trip to Monterey Bay, to being inspired by a Disney Channel Original movie to become a basketball player (I was one of the tallest girl’s in my 4th grade class).
Over the course of time and aging, this question started to shift to a more serious tone from those asking it; it became less of an aspiration and dream and more of a life commitment and obligation that needed to be defined by a certain deadline. As I entered college, it almost appeared my future’s process flow would be determined by the career choice I selected. I became so embroiled internally about my future career choice that I sacrificed valuable time away from learning about who I wanted to be in the moment. It’s an irony that as a society we promote phrases like “live in the moment,” and “the present is a gift,” but structurally we embed a focus on thinking about the future at a young age.
However, I think there is a lot of power in shifting the thinking from “What do you want to be when you grow up?” to “Who do you want to be today?”
As humans we are in a constant state of mental and physical evolution based upon various factors like human nature, our environment and our innate needs. That being said, I have an idea of how I want to better myself; especially with age I have better mechanisms of reaching the potential future me. But to get to that point I must determine what kind of person I am today. What makes me feel proud of myself today? Am I inspired by things in my life? What is motivating me in the moment? Do I like who I am?
The future is always going to be unknown and that is what makes life a juxtaposition of complexity and endearment. However, taking the time to understand our needs and wants in this moment can help us better naturally follow the paths we are instinctively driven by. When we begin to utilize a lens solely focused on our future needs like success and wealth, we are guided by an image of a future self without understanding the internal needs of our present self.
As someone who is constantly worried about the future and attempts to map out as much as possible, this mindset has allowed me to relax and learn with more respect for my personal emotions about what my needs and desires are. If I am focused on understanding who I am, I feel more confident in the decisions I am making because I know my choices are driven from genuine self-reflection. As humans, we have the ability to grow, to merge our emotions, to be layered levels of knowledge so our future does not need to be siloed by one career path. We are defining ourselves everyday and, that is the greatest guide to all the potential we carry for who we can be tomorrow.