What are you going to be when you grow up? What do you do?
Tough questions for any kid, and not always easy for an adult. People love to pigeonhole: the doctor, the artist, the nurse, the mom, the cop, as if that title sums you up and all their questions about you have been answered. But what if the answer to that question is qualitatively different– an answer that covers what you want to be regardless of whether you’re a kid, employed, unemployed, retired, sick, etc?
What if that answer is: kind and brave?
In a recent blog post, Glennon Doyle recounts a time when her son said just that:
When Chase was eight, a woman approached us at the grocery store and said, “What a handsome boy! What do you plan to be when you grow up, young man?” Chase looked at her and said, “I plan to be kind and brave, ma’am.”
This was just one of the best moments of my life. Kind and brave has been our family’s battle cry for as long as I can remember. And I’ve always told my kids that your job isn’t who you are. Your character is who you are. So when folks ask my kids what they “want to be,” they think character, not career.
The great thing about this shift is that my kiddos understand that their life doesn’t magically begin when they “grow up.” Anybody still waiting for that to happen? Me too. Not them. They know that their life is NOW. Childhood is not just a dress rehearsal for adulthood. No way. It’s a whole beautiful thing, all on its own. Childhood is just as real as adulthood. Just as important. Kids can be who they want to be TODAY. They don’t have to wait.
Chase wants to be a human being who is kind and brave and he is already that. He know that his “success” does not depend upon whether he lands some job or not. He knows he’ll be a success if he continues to practice kindness and courage wherever and with whomever he finds himself. His roles will change but his character will remain. He is already who he wants to be. So he can just go about being himself forever. Following his curiosity. One Next Right Thing at a time.
You too. You can just go about being yourself. Following your curiosity. One Next Right Thing at a time. Life starts now. There is no “When I” there is only “I am.” And it’s just as simple and hard as that.
Now take a look again at those few job descriptions above. They’ve morphed a bit, haven’t they? What does a kind and brave doctor look like, a kind and brave artist, a kind and brave nurse, mom, or cop? Suddenly the picture of that person has stretched out of one-dimension and become complex and layered. Kind and brave people in any role or job description and at any age have unique challenges depending on the circumstances.
So what do you want to be when you grow up?