What do you want to be when you grow up?

Why is it that we always ask kids what they want to be, rather than who they want to be when they grow up? I know that would be confusing as they wouldn’t quite understand the question. I imagine they would throw out answers like, “I want to be Batman.” Perhaps a rather sophisticated child might answer, “I want to be Bill Gates.” I’m pretty sure my 9-year-old would say, “Eli Manning.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of who I want to be. The lyrics from a Switchfoot song keep coming to me, “This is your life. Are you who you want to be?” That’s a loaded question. Am I WHO I want to be? Yes and no. The problem is that I get mixed up with the who and the what. So I decided, for my own therapy (as I have said is the main purpose of this blog), to write who I want to be and what I want to be. I’m sure I’ll think of 500 other things along the way, but this is a start.

The who: A follower of Christ, child of God, compassionate, strong but not cold, tender-hearted, others-focused, humble (but I hate the pain that can come with this so I might be lying here… I’ll have to think about whether I really mean that), wise, surrendered and free, happy, joy-spreader, gift-giver, listener, learner, faithful, kind, good, creative, relational, helpful, energetic, loved and lover…

The what: writer and author, adventurer, wife, mother, someday grandmother, sister, friend, daughter, photographer, minister to hurting, mountain climber, sailor, scooter-rider (the kind in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun, not a Razor), skiier, snowboarder, wakeboarder, trekker, hiker, traveler/explorer, teacher, storyteller, joke teller (clean ones, of course), gourmet cook, coffee house owner…

The list could go on, but I am seeing that it is so much easier for me to list my roles (the “what” rather than the “who”). That’s very telling and I feel a little like beating myself up about that. It’s just harder to be the “who” in life, rather than the “what” in life. How many times do we go to weddings or parties where someone asks “So, what do you do?”

So much of our identity is tied up in answering that question. I think I’m going to try to spread a new trend. Instead of asking that age old question, that really tells me nothing about a person, I think I am going to start asking: “So, who are you?”

I can’t wait to hear the answers. If you see me alone in the hallways at my kids’ school or at church or at the next party, you’ll know why. I have scared the bejeeezus out of people.

Sounds fun.

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