Be Instead of Do, Who Instead of What
When kids are kids, adults ask them: “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Or, “what do you want to do when you grow up?”
I remember answering “pilot” and “writer”. I’m sure I had other occupations sprinkled throughout the years, but those are the two that stand out in my mind the most.
I believe that adults ask the wrong questions of kids, and thereby put teenagers on a track of life destined to being identified by a career and the money that comes with it. Even further, adults (not all) instill a very real sense of materialism into these young kids.
“What do you want to be?”
“Graduate high school.”
“Go to college.”
“Get into this industry.”
“Get this car.”
“Get this house.”
“Now, keep up.”
Before they know it, they are drowning in debt from college, their mortgage, and probably a car payment or two. They have a job covering all of the expenses they have taken on and now they are trapped.
Some realize the error of their ways. The trap they bought into. The life they live is the life of someone else and not their own.
But now they are doing eighty miles per hour and they have to keep working to keep paying. They want to put the car in reverse but also have to keep moving forward at the same time. They feel stuck. Trapped. They desperately want to hang onto the person they used to be, the person that lived life, not for the sake of a career, money, and keeping up with the expectations of others, but lived life for the sake of living life.
Still, others will realize the errors of their ways. Consider the alternatives. And just hunker down. Which is perfectly fine. But also very unfortunate, in my opinion. They used to be a person with interests, passions, hobbies, love, affection, and a sense of real life. Now they are a cog in the system. When they reach the point of that magical “retirement” everyone looks forward to so much, what will they be when they are no longer a cog? Who will they have become?
Instead of asking kids and teenagers what they want to do or be, we should consider asking them who they want to be.
Instead of asking fellow adults what they do, ask them who they are.