One of the most popular questions to ask a kid: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answers always varied, and usually consisted of something unrealistic, like “A cowgirl!” or “A cheerleader!” Little did I know that the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders actually existed. Anyways, that’s beside the point.
Despite my seemingly random career goals at age five, one thing felt for certain—I had always loved to tell stories. Whether they were fairytale stories I told my stuffed-animal tea parties or the various creative writing assignments I did in school, I realized at a young age that it was one of my favorite things to do.
Soon after I discovered my passion for storytelling, I began to craft my stories in any medium that I could. I wrote more and more, telling my friends and family more of my own life experiences. I also picked up photography. I loved creating stories and sharing them with others.
It wasn’t until around my junior year of high school, however, that I decided that I wanted to try out journalism when I “grew up.”
Following my passion for writing and photography, I interned for freelance photojournalists as an underclassman in high school and later worked for one of my local papers. I thrived off of the adrenaline of reporting, finding sources and gaining bylines. It felt addicting.
I realized journalism was a career that would combine both of my favorite worlds.
When I started to consider it as a potential career path for me someday, however, I became hesitant. My mother works in business and my father works for the government. And I didn’t feel like they brought me up to consider a more creative—and lesser-paying—career path.
However, I knew that I wouldn’t find happiness in the future if I couldn’t create things or express myself. I didn’t want a nine-to-five job. I also knew that I didn’t want to sit in a cubicle all day.
Shortly after, I convinced my parents to allow me to test the waters in the field. I signed up as a staff member of my high school newspaper. It turned out as one of the most important decisions I made in high school.
Before I knew it, I went off to college. I eventually chose the University of Missouri for its reputation as one of the best journalism schools in the country.
By the time I assimilated into college, I felt like I had it all figured out. I found where I needed to learn, and learning more about the subject I felt most passionate about.
If you discover early in life what you want to be when you grow up, that’s great. Get involved in your interests as soon as possible and start to think long-term about how you can achieve your goals.
And for those who still don’t know what you want to do when you grow up, that’s okay too. Explore your different interests and make an effort to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Then the rest should all fall into place.