What did you want to accomplish when you grew up?

I like the idea of a goal to accomplish, instead of the standard “What do you want to be?”

I’m pretty sure my first answer was to be a ballerina-astronaut.

In high school, it was to be a Doctor On TV, since I loved science, but wasn’t good at it in school, and loved theater and ER.

I never articulated this, but a real dream of mine was (might still be) to be the Executive Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. An alternate version of this dream involves starting the whitest theater company ever, which would stage only outdoor Shakespeare, Moliere and Shaw plays on or near the beach.

Now, I’m working on something new…I’ll let you know when it is fully formed.

Check these fun ones out at The Awl! 

My favorites:

Maggie Koerth-Baker, science editor of BoingBoing

I was about 5 or 6 when I first came up with an answer for the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My early career goal: Become a ballet-dancing archaeologist who was also President of the United States. Apparently, I expected to be much better at time management than I actually am.


Michelle NijhuisSmithsonian contributing writer

A few years ago, my alma mater sent me a copy of the application essay I wrote in 1990. (It was typed. With a typewriter, kids.) I cringed and put the envelope in a file. Now that The Awl has given me a reason to finally read it, I’ll risk humiliating my 17-year-old self—I can just hear the poor girl rolling her eyes—with an excerpt.

Once I thought that I wanted to be Something. I saw Something as a mystical title, indefinite but recognized by all: she is Something, isn’t he Something, wow aren’t they Something.

I did not know that in order to be Something, one must “exhibit leadership potential” but never realize that potential until the proper time. One must belong to many organizations and stand for many causes, but never weep or scream or take a radical stance on behalf of anyone in particular. One must always use a soft lead pencil, fill in the circle completely, and make the mark dark.

I didn’t realize that if you’re going to be Something, you certainly can’t walk up any waterfalls or sound any barbaric yawps (although you may read selected works of Walt Whitman. Selected mind you) or haunt any dusty bookshops or travel to any exotic foreign countries except for business purposes. You can’t drink fewer than eight glasses of water each day, and you can’t let someone lean on your shoulder without expecting something back. You can’t laugh at the world as you try to save it, and you can’t sing in the shower. And I keep telling you that there will be none of that kite flying while you’re on the way to being Something.

When I discovered all of this, I thought, well, isn’t that something. And being Something wasn’t very attractive any more, for suddenly I could be anything.

What did you all what to accomplish?

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