What do you want to be when you grow up?

A friend asked me this week what my dream job would be, if children weren’t a consideration.

I found that pretty hard to answer, as I can’t remember a time when children haven’t been a consideration, and I’ve no idea what that would feel like. I already had one by the time I was 17, so I never experienced the luxury of being able to legally drink and drive (not together of course) without a child in tow.

If I didn’t have children, what would I do? Would I make the most of my freedom, skipping happily from the theatre to the gym, filling my days with fulfilling work and wholesome voluntary activities? Or would I be swaying from one cocktail bar to the next, an inappropriately young man on each arm?

Probably neither. If I didn’t have children I imagine I would spend quite a lot of my time loafing about at home on my own, watching re-runs of Sex and the City and imagining everyone else was out doing something terribly sophisticated, like having drinks and chatting about literature with Stephen Fry. Which is how I pass many an evening already really.

So what about as a child, before parenthood was even conceivable – what did I imagine my adult life would be like then? I gave the question some serious thought. I actually have a very poor long-term memory. Goodness knows what happened to me as a child, but whatever it was has been successfully blocked out. Most of my childhood memories come via my sister, who even at four years younger than me seems to have a much clearer picture.

I do have an image in my head that has stuck with me though, from a time when I must have been imagining life as a grown up. It is a really only a flash, and is basically me dressed in a lovely suit and high heels, letting myself into an elegant, tidy and sparsely furnished flat. That’s it, but the sense I get from it is that I am just getting home from a long day in some kind of stressful but rewarding office based job, and am looking forward to kicking off my heels and relaxing with a nice hot bath.

All in all, not very helpful in terms of career planning. The opportunity to wear a nice pencil skirt and a good pair of shoes is clearly important though, which makes me question my current work at home status. Much of my time is spent in trousers with elasticated waists and I barely leave the house, let alone let myself back in with a sense of exhausted satisfaction.

Obviously I like writing, which is lucky, given my line of work, but I do miss the social interaction. Half the fun of work for me is striking up some kind of inappropriate relationship with a colleague, and skiving off to look at facebook or send personal emails doesn’t give the same sense of wicked pleasure when you work for yourself.

In the back of my head I nurture a dream of being offered my own column in the Guardian weekend magazine, one I’m sure is shared by one or two others, but I have learnt in the last year that work to me is about more than just the job you do. It is about the company you work for, the people you work with and the person you become once you get into that pencil skirt.

As much as I love the flexibility that working from home gives me, I miss the banter, the camaraderie, and the reason to get dressed in the morning. So maybe I’ll stick with my journalistic dreams, but I need them to involve an office. An office with lots of other interesting people in it. And maybe an on site cocktail bar and a view over Manhattan.

Hang on, my secretary has a call waiting. It’s Stephen – he has a new book he’d like to discuss over lunch. Sorry – must dash…



  1. 2 April, 2010 / 10:53 am

    I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out the same thing. What do I want to be when I grow up? A few weeks ago I wrote about my current life (reality) compared to my dreams at 14 and it helped me (in my own mind) put things in perspective. I came out with a better idea of what I don’t want and I realized that I need to pursue my passion. But like you, I would love to get out of the house and go to an office, preferrably where a lot of fun people work. Socializing is a very important part of a work day and, staying at home, I really really miss that.

    I would love to have cocktails and a chat with Stephen Fry! Since Oscar Wilde is not available, Stephen would do nicely.

    • 2 April, 2010 / 1:07 pm

      So what were you dreaming of at 14 and does that match up to what you now feel to be your passion? It’s so hard to find the right balance isn’t it? When I worked in an office I always wanted to work from home – the grass is always greener!

      • 2 April, 2010 / 1:12 pm

        I wanted to be a writer. . .and all I got was the blog! Not sure if that matches up. It’s true—the grass is always greener. What’s the ideal situation?

  2. 2 April, 2010 / 1:19 pm

    Well what’s a blog if it’s not writing?

    I think the ideal for me would be a staff job on a magazine or newspaper , with very flexible working hours i.e. turn up whenever I liked, no travelling, plus a home office for when I was feeling in need of some alone time.

    Too much to ask maybe??

  3. 2 April, 2010 / 2:58 pm

    My dreams as a kid were both for some reason lounging around on a sofa with maribou mules and a glam dressing gown – I don’t think it was a dream that I wanted to be a prostiute lol – it was some dream about a life of leisure and just lolling arond looking beautiful. And the other was always from age maybe 7 wanting to have a lot of kids and a nice country style house and cosy type family life. So these days I do like lolling around in mules and have a very easy life with kids and nice husband so I have achieved everything. That said in recent years my writing ambition has burned more and more ….I don’t think its cystitis so I’m gonna keep on trucking

    • 6 April, 2010 / 6:50 am

      Haha! You wanted to be a prostitute when you grew up :-)

      I like your idea of ambition though. When I was staying at my sister’s this weekend we were trying to come up with a family motto. We narrowed it down to ‘stay still as much as possible’ or ‘have a little lie down’.

  4. suburbanmummyuk
    3 April, 2010 / 5:34 am

    My memory is very bad too, from 20 minutes ago to 5 years ago. Yet I remember things from the age of 2 lol. WEIRD

    I can’t imagine having a child that young, my own mother had me at 16 but I am adopted, but it still can’t of been easy for you!

    you never know you might get to write for a big paper from home, you know like famous people do :D

    • 6 April, 2010 / 6:51 am

      Oooh, I have actually written for big papers, does that make me famous?? And if so, why has no one noticed? Hmmphh.

  5. 5 April, 2010 / 6:11 pm

    My ‘real life’ ideal job would be as the Training Manager for Virgin Airlines just so that I could go to Barbados or California 5 times a year on holiday. My dream job would be a Shoe Designer…..actually maybe I just want to win the lottery and wear expensive shoes ;-)

  6. 5 April, 2010 / 7:45 pm

    I used to dream of being a farmer. I spent a lot of years doing the office job, dressing up, being the efficient secretary, and then finally realised that my dream was able to come true.

    CJ xx

    • 6 April, 2010 / 6:51 am

      Ahhh! That is lovely, glad you have been able to make your dream come true xx

  7. 7 April, 2010 / 3:21 am

    It is funny how dreams change as one ages. At 12 I wanted to be Joe Morgan, the 2nd baseman for the Cincinnati Reds. He was my hero. I have had all sorts of dreams since then, but what is so suprising now, is that I sort of dream of writing. I discovered the joy of blogging about woodworking 94 days ago, and each and every day I have crafted a daily rambling.

    It is amazing to me, as I used to think that writing was something one did when they were being punished by their english teacher. Now I find great comfort in creating my missives each day and take delight in the few people who seem to like my drivel.

    So I guess I too dream of being a writer. Having something published, preferably that sells as well as J.K. Rowlings stuff. Is that too much to ask? Well yes, but that is what dreams are for.

    All of this new found love of writing has opened up the world of reading blogs too. I don’t remember how I found this blog, but each post brings a smile to my face.

    I hope you get your column. I am sure it would be well received.

  8. 13 November, 2010 / 9:59 am

    I wanted to be a fashion designer, working in Paris for Jean Paul Gaultier. I did manage to get as far as working in a sweat shop in Coventry! Not quite the same though!!

  9. 15 November, 2010 / 11:10 am

    I think I had very similar dreams to you i.e. I wanted to be a journalist – or an actress! Sadly, I think I was a very confident child but that didn’t develop into adulthood when I became less convinced of my own talents. Since I’ve had kids though, I’m gaining more confidence and have started my own business – which I love!

    Re: missing the office, I thought I was missing it too so took a recent contract which involved working in an office 3 days a week for the past 4 months – and I can’t wait to get back into the home office in January. It’s true what they say, ‘be careful what you wish for!’

    • 15 November, 2010 / 6:50 pm

      That sounds much like me – super confident as a child, but less sure of myself as I became an adult! I’m pretty sure I’m back on track now though :-)

      I did always fancy being a ballet dancer…

  10. 18 November, 2010 / 7:26 am

    My dream job would be film critic. I love movies, popcorn and chilling – something I do not have time to do now I am doing my 2nd dream job!

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