I Don’t Want My Kids To Be ANYTHING When They Grow Up…

…. Yet.

I don’t want my kids to be anything when they grow up YET. We are overachievers in this household. Education is paramount, success is a goal but as I look at my five year old and 17 month old, I don’t want them to want anything in particular as a career goal for a loooooooooooong time.

When I was five years old I knew what I wanted to be… a LAWYER. For a short time, I wanted to also be a figure ice skater like Debi Thomas, but by and large I wanted to be a lawyer because of my two idols: Thurgood Marshall and Claire Huxtable. I did not have any lawyers who were family members but I knew that lawyers helped people, the way Marshall did and that you could have a balanced life of being a great mother and wife if you were a lawyer because Claire did that – HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *EXHALES* HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *EXHALES* HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *EXHALES* HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *EXHALES* HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

ok….. back to the blog…

So that was it – I was going to be lawyer… and that image and goal became such a fantasy that I could not divide myself from it. It became an overwhelming expectation and I would lead with it –

I’m Aisha, I’m from Brooklyn and I’m going to be a lawyer.

The adults around me started to expect it to the point where I heard – Aisha’s going to be the first lawyer in the family, she’s going to be my lawyer some day. I embraced it without really knowing what I was signing up for and also, I closed myself off from other options that were possible for me. When I was in high school I had a math teacher who asked what I wanted to be… I said a lawyer. She looked me dead in the face and said – you have the mind for math, you need to become an engineer and she suggested that I change my high school major. But, I could not do it, Aisha the Lawyer had become such a part of my identity that doing anything else would seem like a failure. So I pressed on… I went to college with the SOLE goal of getting good enough grades to go to law school… that was it. I did not use college as a space of exploration or growth the way I should have – I just wanted to get good grades… and I did it. I often heard from people that I should be a teacher or counselor but I ignored that. I worked at the neighboring law school, I worked at a law firm. I graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors and was accepted into one of the top ten law schools in the country… Ivy League. Holy Grail.

Now – I currently love my law related job but I no longer practice law. In fact, in many ways I act as a counselor and teacher (ha!) to fellow attorneys. I don’t regret getting my law degree (still think it’s one of the best professional degrees you can get) but what I do regret is the exploration that I missed out on because I was myopic about my goals. I allowed the pressure of being able to answer the question: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? take more control over me than it should have especially during a time in life when answering the question was not necessary. Before I even knew who I was or what my talents were I had defined myself…. that’s backwards.

So for my children, I don’t want them to be ANYTHING when they grow up except … OPEN.

When you were young – did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?