What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?

Doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Who remembers being asked that as a kid? I remember some of the replies.  Doctor! Lawyer! Indian Chief! Actress! Cowboy! Mother! Policeman!

We all entertained notions of the future. Some of them were realistic, and many parroted the heroes we saw on television. Who remembers watching The Lone Ranger, Lassie, Sky King, and Andy Griffith?

Others wanted to emulate the characters in Donna Reed, I Love Lucy, My Three Sons and a slew of other shows. I remember sitting around the TV when we lived on Pacoima Court and fantasizing about the future, and pretending to be a myriad of characters that I saw on the tube, except those who had to cook, iron or clean the house.

One of my dreams was becoming an Olympic athlete.  Sports always came easily for me, which accounted for all the P.E. classes I took at UCSB to help keep my G.P.A. above 3.0.  I tried just about everything that involved a ball.

Baseball, softball, volleyball, tennis, and badminton were some of the organized sports I enjoyed, along with running and cycling for more solitary experiences. I sucked at gymnastics though, and those snow sports? They were out of my league because they were so expensive.

My brother Jim almost made it to the Olympics in the early ‘60s for swimming, so it made sense that I would want to pursue an athletic career as well. But it never really happened.

Although I loved athletics, it’s not enough to be a good at sports. You have to train religiously, sometimes for several hours a day.  No thank you. You have to have money and parental support behind you. Didn’t have that either. And then there’s the luck factor, and also avoiding injury.

Thankfully, I had many other interests, so when I parked my Olympic dreams, it wasn’t so bad. I found great joy on other activities.

In life, so many things come your way, and at times, they’re also taken away from you.  Maybe success isn’t just about achieving your goals. Maybe it’s also determined by how well you navigate the minefields and how you get over your obstacles.

What did you want to be when you were a kid, and did you fulfill those dreams?

Mary McGrath February 18, 2013 at 06:45 PM
And did your vocational aspirations change as you grew older? I also wanted to become a vet, a nightclub singer, fireman, and psychotherapist. Didn't have the stamina for medical school after college, didn't like the night life of performing, could pull a hose to make it as a fireman. But ad sales? That was fun, for the most part...
Andy Steiner February 18, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Odd story... my father always told me that I would be an engineer when I grew up. When I entered SFVSC, I registered my major as engineering. And I flunked out that first year. Problem was that I never knew what an engineer was or did.
Mary McGrath February 19, 2013 at 01:31 AM
Maybe you thought you should be Engineer Bill?
teresa mcgrath February 21, 2013 at 02:23 PM
we grew up? nice mary....we had vibrant playtimes full of creativity...we wrote that play with robbie, daryl, and dennis, blloo vs coke....a dancer would have been my first choice, an athlete, an artist....went into the medical field in the insurance division...a far cry from fantasies as a kid.......haha, engineer, andy....who knew what they did, except wear the hat and smile...
Mary McGrath February 21, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Yeah, all our dreams....practicality comes into play for me...I didn't want the uncertainty of an artistic life, plus it's very hard to make it....


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