What do you want to be when you grow up?


We like to ask our kids, what do you want to be when you grow up? It ‘s a question often reserved for the young. We don’t usually ask adults what they want to be when they grow up. Maybe it’s because they are already grown up. Or maybe we don’t think that a grown up wants to be someone different.


Right now I am pondering the question, what do I want to be when I grow up? I am not that far off from being eligible to retire from the Coast Guard. After I retire, what do I want to do?


This isn’t a question we ask people who retire. Instead we offer congratulations on a long career now. We may slip in the what’s next for you? But we don’t ask, what do you want to be when you grow up?


People who retire tend to have financial responsibilities. It is easy for people to leave the military, take off the uniform, and return to the same job wearing a coat and tie. I think it’s great if your job is your passion but as adults we sometimes lose the idea of what we want to do and replace it with what we have to do.


While it feels like I have a few years until I am retirement eligible, in reality it is more like a few months. The average car loan has more months in it then I have until I reach the 20-year mark. And when I reach that point, I don’t want to be relegated to doing what I have to do, I want to find what I want to do.


In preparation for that moment Jim and I have been working diligently to pay off all of the stupid debt we’ve accumulated over the years. (Yes it is stupid debt, at this point we aren’t even sure where it all came from.) But aside from being financially prepared, I have to take a moment to figure out what I want to do with my life.


Instead of transferring the GI Bill to my daughter, I’ve decided to use it myself. My plan when I joined the Army in 1995 was to go to college when I get out, I just wasn’t expecting to transfer services and complete a career. And I intend to follow through with that plan. I did manage to get a degree while I was in and right now I am working on my master’s. But when I was a kid I wanted to be an underwater scientist like Jacque Cousteau or an imagineer for Disney. Sadly the degrees I have won’t help me with either of those.


Retirement is an ending but it is also a beginning. Please don’t be afraid to ask me, what do you want to be when you grow up? Right now, I still don’t have a clue and that’s okay. Anyway, isn’t college supposed to be about exploring and figuring out what you want to do?


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