When I Grow Up
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a fairly common question to ask a young child, and one to which I gave a lot of thought throughout my childhood. As a precocious and energetic 4-year-old, I had decided that I would do a bit of everything. “I want to be a fire-fighting, baton-twirling, pastor,” certain that my dream was not far out of my reach.
As I matured, my aspirations became more focused, but no more permanent. One day I wanted to be a pediatrician, and the next I wanted to be an Air Force pilot. I loved to play “school” with my younger sister, but after watching the ’80s classic, Space Camp, Lea Thompson convinced me to become an astronaut instead. Couple this with my desire to continue working in my family’s chocolate business and a fascination to enter news broadcasting, and it’s not difficult to believe that I changed my major three times in the first six months of my collegiate career.
I remember well the feelings of confusion and uncertainty that overwhelmed me as I was faced with the reality of answering the question I had been contemplating since childhood. Perhaps the issue with which I struggled most was not the way I viewed my job as much as it was the way other people viewed it. When asked, “What do you do?” my answer inevitably resulted in a response of admiration or polite resignation. I desperately desired affirmation from others that my job, and ultimately my life, meant something. In so doing, I made the mistake of equating my job with my life.
Through the process of a very introspective personal journey that included career counseling, conversations with mentors, and a deeper understanding of my personal relationship with God, I came to a peace that my identity is not wrapped up in what I do, but rather who I’ve been created to be. My significance extends far beyond my occupation and appearance.
While it may have been most strongly felt during my quarterlife years, this lesson is one that has continued to come up in the years since. When I married and moved to a new city, the process of meeting new people, stepping into new roles as a wife and pastor’s wife, and not having an “official” job was a happy time, but one that was once again riddled with the pressure to make myself busy and productive. I desperately wanted to have something significant to say when people asked me what I was doing with my days.
Remembering my Truths has been just as significant now as it was several years ago. Before I am a role, a title, or a salary, I am a child of God. This must be at the foundation of any job or position in a company or my family. Post-quarterlife crisis, I find I’m still answering my childhood question. Even more than that, however, I find I’m trying to answer, “Who do I want to be as I grow up?” The clothes, roles, and titles may change with the seasons of life, but I pray that the foundation remains the same. I am my Father’s daughter.
About the Author
Leah Leach is now at the ripe old age of 28, recently married to the man of her dreams, Brad. She enjoys blogging at leewards.blogspot.com, baking, and partnering with Brad in ministry at his church, Church of the King, in Metro Detroit.