What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m convinced that no one actually knows the answer to this.

If you asked me when I was 6, I would have told you I wanted to be a mailman. I’m not really sure why, but it always seemed fun to travel across the city every day and give people what they needed: their mail.

At around age 10, I started saying “I want to start my own business and be my own boss!” because I saw my dad ran his own company and had the freedom to do what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it.

Then, I started saying I want to be a writer. I wanted to write page-turning novels.

Next up: I wanted to be a sports journalist starting in middle school. However, I realized traditional sports journalists usually have to start off by moving to a city in the middle of no where on a $25k salary, so I started re-thinking this choice too.

At this point (around my senior year of high school), I started thinking about entering the business world saying somewhat naive statements like “having an understanding of business can help you in every industry, even the media, so if I learn business, I can do whatever I want!” Let’s be honest: at the time, I had no idea what a business person even really meant or what marketing or finance did for a company.

I’ll save you the trouble of reading all of the different careers I thought about in college (maybe for another day) – the list is way too long.

As a kid, it always blew my mind when kids knew EXACTLY what they wanted to be when they grew up. How do you know when, as a 10-year-old (or even a 16 year old), that you want to be a nuclear physicist, a divorce attorney, an investment banker, or a surgeon? More power to these kids, but that was never the type of kid I was and I don’t think most normal people are either.

We’re taught to think about what we want to be when we grow up at such a young age. That’s okay when you’re 7, 11 or 17, but three years later when you’re 19 or 20, you’re expected to choose a major that’s supposed to set you up for the rest of your life in whatever career path you choose.

This is utter bull shit. That’s way too much pressure on a 19 or 20 year old.

No one should be expected to know the answer to this question at such a young age. This was okay in the industrial era when we had to pick a career and stick with it for the next 40 years. However, in the digital era, the world is changing too fast. As global digital citizens, we need to be adaptable. Instead of choosing one career path for the rest of our lives, we should focus on our biggest curiosities.

“Life is a continual process of arrival into who we are.”

Maria Popova, on the Tim Ferriss Show

This quote from Maria Popova, the founder and sole writer of the blog Brain Pickings, describes this phenomenon perfectly. We are all making it up as we go. We are constantly figuring it out, whether you’re 19, 42, or 80 years old. Once you accept this part of life, that we are constantly arriving into who we are, the better and happier your life will be. Piece by piece, we are putting together the puzzle pieces to who we are to become.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should always be changing job to job, interest to interest, hobby to hobby until you find the perfect situation. Instead, it means to discover what it is you like learning the most, develop a skill around that interest, and in turn helping other people with that interest or skill. Once you find the rabbit hole you like enough, jump in and don’t hold back.

Right now, that rabbit hole for me is two-fold: (1) writing this daily blog (and thus scratching my own itch of writing publicly) and (2) working as content marketer part-time for Gilded, the crypto accounting software company, while learning everything there is to know about the digital currency landscape.

I’ve always been interested in innovation and I believe that digital currency, specifically Bitcoin, is one of the most important innovations of our time. It’s going to flip our current financial institution on its head. The current financial system, built in the 19th and 20th centuries, wasn’t structured for the digital era that we are currently living through. But I digress (I’ll be writing many more posts on the state of digital currencies soon)…

If you made it this far, I know what you’re all thinking:

Do you still want to be a mailman when you grow up, Jonah?

Not anymore, but that could always change. For now, I’m sticking away from working at the post office and focusing my energy on my current projects. I’ll leave you with this quote from Lao Tzu:

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu

Cheers to not knowing what you want to be when you grow up,


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Thanks and I hope you have an amazing weekend doing the things you love with people you love.

Published by Jonah Baer

Florida State student | Memphis, TN native

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