What do you want to be when you grow up?


I grew up in Malaysia.

At school, they would ask us to do this one thing every single term. They would ask us to list down, in order of preference, our cita-cita (or ambitions in life).

In essence… “What do you want to be when you grow up?

When we first started doing that, I remember we were in primary school. Standard 2? Maybe Standard 1? At the time, I had no clue whatsoever… nada…
not even for a moment had I contemplated the fact that I would have to get a job some day.

It was too far in the future for me to be worrying about now, surely.

And here they were asking me… for not one, but three preferred career choices!

Well, the only professions I could think of were the kind of work that my parents did. So, the very first time I did it … I think I wrote jurutera (engineer),  guru (teacher) and then…. I couldn’t really figure out what to write as my third choice.

I did what any stumped 7-year-old would do. I looked at what my friends had written.

By far the most popular choices were polis (police) and ahli bomba (fireman). I knew I didn’t want to do either of those things. So I wrote down what I thought was the only other profession left.


What was the point, anyway?

As I grew older, and discovered that there were more than 5 types of jobs in the world, my list of three career choices were forever evolving. The one thing that I always avoided writing however, was peniaga or business-owner. For some strange reason – it kinda felt wrong to write peniaga.

I think it’s because I felt that to become a peniaga you didn’t really have to go to school. Instead you needed to have a different kind of smarts. The kind that you don’t really learn from textbooks.

Which to me, meant that, if that was my ambition – to become a peniaga – then I shouldn’t be wasting my time in school. But since ‘not going to school’ was not an option for me at the time… it seemed only logical (in a warped kind of way) that peniaga was not an option for me either.

But guess what? Today, that’s what I am. I’m a peniaga.
So… what was the point of that exercise anyway?

2398466720_4dc9a4b246_zUp till today I still wonder about that. Why did they want us to do it?  Was it for their own analytics and stats? I doubt it. Was it to get us thinking about our future careers? Was it to instill curiosity in our young minds about the potential ways we could serve our community?

I don’t know if it did any of that for me back then, but what  I do know is that it’s way more important that I do that exercise today at age 36. I’ve done my schooling. I’ve done the uni thing. I’ve worked in some of the world’s biggest companies and I’ve started my own businesses. But there’s so much more I want to do in life. Dammit… I’m certain that the best is yet to come.

So…what do I want to be when I grow up?

here’s my list.

21 August 2014.

  1. Writer – I want to write insanely useful books and guides that will help thousands of people.
  2. Teacher – I want to teach people how to do the few things that I have learnt to do really well.
  3. Explorer – I want to go, see and experience more of this world (and my inner world as well).

There it is. Now all I need to do is start making it happen. And I’ll use this blog to document it as I go along.

I don’t know if anyone else is reading this blog at all – this being the first post – I doubt it…maybe my wife and my mum. LOL. So, what do you guys want to be when you grow up? Leave a comment lah… it’ll help me feel like a real blogger for a change.  And if you happen to be someone either than my wife or mum, feel free to leave a comment as well.

Here’s to you, and your cita-cita!


Image credit: Sarah Horrigan (You see sand, I see fairy dust)
Written by Dinesh Rudra