What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?


This post has been at the back of my mind for a long time and every now and then something triggers off the thought. The LBC topic and What I Do/Did For A Living, got one of my readers to talk to me on the phone and that conversation again revived the idea and here goes.

During my corporate avatar when interviewing candidates for employment with us, I would not miss asking this question to try and find quite what kind of changes had taken place in the candidate and also to get some understanding about her power of imagination.

Naturally, I have asked myself the same question to get an insight into my own progress in life and today, I will share that answer and try and explain my current attitude towards, success and ambition about which I have written other posts.

My friends however had clear ideas like wanting to become doctors, engineers, soldiers, government officials etc. They worked towards achieving those goals with single minded devotion and would be puzzled by my own indifference to those laudable goals. They did not have access to my inner thoughts. I could not have articulated those thoughts then even if I had wanted to. I was just that different.

No, I did not want to become a fireman or a cop or a bus driver. What I wanted to do when I grew up most was to get out of my father’s control. To enable that, I was willing to do anything to earn some money to keep body and soul together and in the process have some fun too. I did that by wheeling and dealing and enjoyed those days with like minded kindred souls.

My father had other ideas however and despite getting out of his home, tried to tie me down to employment where he could indirectly control me. That I eventually was able to get free from under that situation and become a reasonably stable and productive citizen was due entirely to circumstances over which I had little control. I call that grace. That is why I have consistently maintained that in my life, I was just in the right place at the right time and events kept overtaking me.

Now, just imagine some interviewer asking me the same question that I used to ask. What could I have answered? Had I been honest, would I have been selected?

Pravin, how does that sound to you?

22 thoughts on “What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?”

    1. That is a good question to ask, I really believe that I would have had other things worked out alright. It is a pity though that no one ever answered like that or close to that.

    2. I have been thinking about this question again and I believe that such an answer would have shown character and a potential for growth. What do you think?

      As usual, synchronicity works its magic and after I wrote the first paragraph here, I was led to this article which makes a great deal of sense to me now in retrospect, and validates my conclusion that the context in the answer should lead the interviewer to form proper assessments. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/06/why-brainteasers-dont-belong-in-job-interviews.html

  1. What would I say in answer to your, the interviewer’s question? I don’t know, Ramana. Would depend entirely on which way the wind blows on the day, what mood I am in, how facetious I feel like being, what devil is riding me the moment I sit opposite you, whether I like you or not, and – last but not least, indeed most importantly – whether I actually want the job.

    Yes, I am unemployable.

    Ursula recently posted..Bee in bonnet

  2. Not as eloquently facetious as Ursula, I’d probably just be a smart-ass and reply – I’ll let you know when I grow up. Unfortunately, synchronicity prevents such a response as I would be remiss if I did not tell you that I too never gave much thought to career goals. I suspect the closest I came was wanting to be a cop – an idea that caused my wife to promise to divorce me if I did. So while never finding a strike-it-rich career, I’ve just enjoyed dabbling in electronics most of my life. One of my very best friends – a man who was a prime mover in the invention and development of cell phone technology – has always expressed some disappointment that UI dropped out of grad school and never pursued a diplomatic career as was the plan for a time – but we stay in regular touch and find ourselves in relatively similar circumstances at this stage of our lives. His bank account is in substantially better shape than mine though,

    1. “All the world’s a stage,
      And all the men and women merely players;
      They have their exits and their entrances,
      And one man in his time plays many parts……………”

  3. Hi Rummy,

    It depends on the employer or on the recruiter. If I had been the one recruiting you, I would have been satisfied with your answer – maybe because we have many things in common.

    I never wanted to be the things others wanted to be either. But I am not going to tell you here, in public, what I wanted to be when I grew up…I will share it with you later on, through our usual channel :).

    Grace: we all need a good dose of it.

    Max Coutinho recently posted..Maxiavelli: The Surveillance Programme Scandal & Betrayal

Comments are closed.