'What do you want to be when you grow up?'
It’s a classic question that we’re asked from the time that we’re children. It becomes an identity that we seek out over the course of our lifetime, as we determine what we want to ‘do’ with our lives.
When I was 6-years-old, I told my parents I wanted to be a mystery writer. I was infatuated with Nancy Drew, and read the whole series cover to cover...all 100+ of them. I yearned for the opportunity to play detective and tell my own stories of uncovering facts and truths. But my parents painted the picture of a starving creative, and nudged me to pick another profession.
Fast forward into my college and grad school years, and I found myself nerding out over science and engineering instead. Over the course of my academic career, I published research in high-impact science journals as I explored the depths of our genomics and metabolism through the lens of a computational biologist. My parents were pleased with the path I had taken.
And when I decided to leave behind biotech and founded WellSeek, I became immersed in the world of health media, collaborating with our community to dissect the way our culture influences and impacts our public health.
I suppose you could say that I managed to stay true to my original intent of becoming a mystery writer.
Shhh...don’t tell my parents.
In many ways, there’s a common misconception that your professional identity must fit into some pre-existing category or label. It often gets bucketed based on what type of degree or training that you received.
But if you read between the lines, there’s more to it. There’s always something that ties it all together.
There is a purpose that drives your desire to learn more. There is an intention that feeds your passion in wanting to help others through your knowledge. There is a unique perspective filtered through the lens of your life experiences that only you are able to share.
Look closely, and that’s when a common thread emerges.
For myself, it wasn’t really about becoming mystery writer, a scientist, or an editor.
It was about remaining curious enough to explore the truths, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. After all, we can never really know it all, and we can only grow when we’re challenged to see things in a new light.
So the truth is, life is less about what you do. It’s about allowing your purpose and intentions pull you towards a path of who you become.