When I Grow Up…

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

I was asked this question countless times throughout my childhood as if I was supposed to know what career I wanted to have for the rest of my life in 1st grade. At age 5, I wanted to be the first black president of the United States of America. At 14, I wanted to be the orthopedic surgeon for the New England Patriots. At 18, I wanted to be an athletic trainer for a professional soccer team in Europe.


However, for the last five years, no one has asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, let alone the vision I have for my life or who I want to become.

Questions throughout college were “what’s your major?” followed by the infamous “what do you want to do with that?” Had I known I was expected to be locked into a 90 credit hour major curriculum for the rest of my life, I would not have chosen athletic training as the major of choice.

So why do we stop asking this question?

  • Is it because if people knew our dreams, they would shoot them down?
  • Are we afraid of being wrong if that is not what we are doing 5-10 years from now?
  • Perhaps we are not confident in our ability to lead and be the difference?

No matter your age, level of educational attainment, or professional experience, no one has all the answers or knows exactly what their future holds. Whether you are preparing to take the ACT/SAT, just graduated from college, or are gearing up for retirement, it is essential that we continue examining this question throughout our lifetime.

Just because it has not been done before does not mean it is impossible.


As we get older, we are not expected to have all the answers about our future. Yet, we should be well-versed articulating our passions, willing to take risks, and investing time and energy to translate our dreams into reality. In order to protect your future, you must first protect your space. Surround yourself with consistent people who not only support you in becoming your best self, but also encourage you to vividly paint your vision for the future.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. – Marianne Williamson

The powerful light that frightens us is the same light that illuminates and inspires those around us. In order for our light to shine, it is crucial we speak things into existence. Explicitly naming what we want to be and who we want to become is our opportunity to release our dreams into the atmosphere. Silence is the residue of fear and we cannot allow situational anxiety, doubt, and apprehension to pollute our minds and delay our unified success.

You are not given a dream unless you have the capacity to fulfill it.

When I grow up, I want to be a university president.


What do you want to be when you grow up?

Encourage somebody to be great today!

Tim Bryson

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