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Growing up and making mistakes

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I don’t have all the answers.

And I used to think this was a bad thing.

But I’m learning that it’s okay to not have the answers all the time. I have to remind the perfectionist in me that it is perfectly normal to feel uncertain and apprehensive about the future, and it is certainly okay to admit you’re unsure about something.

It doesn’t make you any less of a person, no matter what society may tell you.

katie job

(Smile; it makes people think you’re up to something!)

I meant to publish this right after the post on my big decision.

Then I got distracted by other posts I wanted to publish. (I blame the chocolate!) So this is a little late; but the subject matter is perpetually relevant, and therefore I wanted to go ahead and post it anyway.

When I grow up…

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Children so easily answer this question. “Oh, I will be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher.” There’s no wrong answer when you’re a kid. Even if you say you want to be a dinosaur, people will just laugh and think it’s cute.

Not so cute when you’re 24.

When I started college, I had no clue what I wanted to “be” in terms of a job. My parents and teachers assured me this was perfectly normal; I’d figure it out. But junior year loomed and still: no clue. I was raking up quite a few Spanish and English Lit courses… maybe I could be an editor? Or a teacher? The only problem was, as much as I excelled in these classes, my heart wasn’t in it.

(I wrote more about my college experience here: My college story.)

I had no passion! I’d look at people who loved their jobs and wonder (in despair!) if it was just not in the cards for me. “Am I destined to spend my life doing something I don’t enjoy? What’s wrong with me that I have no interests?!”

Then came the blog.

I initially started blogging, when I went off to college in Philadelphia (Bryn Mawr), to keep in touch with my friends back in Texas. (Anyone remember when MySpace and Xanga were big?) Then I discovered the food-blog community, and I finally found my passion!

my blogs f

Writing, recipe testing, and even my photography

The point of sharing my story is to reassure those of you who feel like I did that it really is okay to have no idea what your future holds. Things have a way of working out. That’s not to say I believe in fate, and I definitely don’t think a person should sit back and just let things unfold. Be proactive; get out there and immerse yourself in life! Try new things, do activities that scare you, step outside your comfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.

Mistakes are the best way to learn. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.”

Sometimes something you think was a mistake or bad luck will turn out to be a good thing, years later. You never know at the time, because people can’t predict the future. (I don’t care what those fortune tellers say.)

Sure, it’s good to be prepared. But you don’t want to worry so much about planning for the future that you forget to enjoy the present!

Question of the Day:

Did you always know what you wanted to “be” when you grew up?

Or did it take some time to figure it out? Maybe you’re still trying to figure it out? If you are still searching, try to remember that life is not so much about who you will be in the future as it is about who you are “being” right now.

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Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. Meredith Bessey says:

    I went through many possible career choices while I was growing up; maybe I wanted to be a teacher, an architect, a brain surgeon? Then I got to university and discovered psychology, and thought I’d discovered my passion. Now I’m getting more and more into nutrition and yoga, and am contemplating whether I should pursue a graduate degree in nutrition and teach yoga, or continue on the path I’m already on and pursue clinical psychology training. So many questions! Hence the reason I’ve decided to take a year off after my undergrad to think all these things through!

  2. In third grade, I wrote a little “paper” saying that I want to be a teacher. Between then and now.. I went through a gazillion other things that I wanted to be. But – I am now a teacher. I guess that the 8 year old Caitlin knew what she was talkin’ about!

  3. Since I was 4, I wanted to be a doctor. Wanted. But after my 2+6+6=14 years of education, I’m not sure I want to do it anymore. I have to face the truth that I HATE studying and I’m not exactly an academic- oriented person. After 14 years of ‘knowing’ what I wanted to be when I grow up, right before the year I need to choose my career path, suddenly not knowing the direction of my life… feels so… wrong! Maybe I should ‘not be afraid to make a mistake’, and follow my real dreams, like you did. I guess the only thing to know that something is a mistake is to make the mistake. 🙂

  4. Erin says:

    i can honestly say that i have no idea what/who i want to be. i’ve gone from wanting to be a baker to a vet, to a psycologist to a journalist. all i know is that writing is my passion and one day i will have a published novel. i’m also so interested in holistic medicine (natural remedies without drugs and stuff) but it’s a job with no benefits that insurance won’t cover. =(
    and katie, have you ever considered writing a cook book? chocolate covered vegan? i feel like with your amazing recipes and quirky personality it would be a huge hit =)!

    1. I am working on a cookbook! It’s in the very early stages though… but there will be one someday!!! 🙂

      1. Michaela says:

        wohoo!! Katie, I can´t WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! best news ever!! You should see all the scribbled pages that I got in my cookbook with handwritten recipes… Yours are overflowing!! I take some time once in a while to write them down nicely, but I always add more and sometimes it´s hard to keep up. Good luck! I honestly cannot wait!

      2. Erin says:

        ahh i’m so excited! You better come to long island and have a book signing (preferably some chocolate should be provided at the signing 😉 )

        1. ashley says:

          Is it available yet? I just noticed the date was 17 AUG 2011 (a year ago) when you said you’re finishing up.

          1. No lol the process can actually take years. But it IS getting there, and I will update when it’s available!

  5. Rachel says:

    I’ve known since I was a little kid exactly what I wanted to be. Now I’m about to get my PhD in it, but I feel a little weird that I let a little child dictate my life’s direction! I like it, but I am totally unsure that there isn’t something out there I’d love more.

  6. Rachel W says:

    thank you katie, that was very inspirational. I am almost 23 and still not sure what I want to do in life yet, and have been stressing about it lately. So, this post came at a perfect time! Thanks for the reassurance that it is going to be ok and that everything always DOES work out somehow, we just have to stay positive 🙂

  7. Nichole says:

    I love this post. When I was little, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but this dream kind of faded in high school. The problem is, i have so many interests/things i enjoy doing, i can’t pick just one. Right now my life seems very uncertain, as i’m going into senior year of college as a biochem major, but wanting to go to grad school for physics..and having no clue what kind of career i could get with either of these degrees. The big problem is, most people who like physics go on to be engineers, but there are a million different kinds of engineering..and i can’t just pick one. i have big problems with decisions…but i’m sure it’ll work out in the end.

  8. When I grow up, I want to be YOU 🙂

    Haha I wanted to be a pop star when I was a kid! Somehow with my tone-deaf singing, I don’t think that one will pan out! 😛 But whatever I end up doing, I want to be as PASSIONATE about it as you are!!! <3

  9. Brittany says:

    I’m so glad you posted this, I finally feel like I’m not the only one! Most of my friends had an idea of what they wanted to do since they were little and I always thought what is wrong with me? I’m a sophomore in college and I STILL don’t know. I’m trying business but my passion is really health and fitness but I always figured I would never make enough money. I still don’t know what I want to do, but thanks for posting this 🙂

  10. Katie Westbrook says:

    I completely relate to this! I wanted to be a marine scientist for 10 years, but when college actually came around turns out my combined passions of natural sciences and being hands on goes great with physical therapy, something I never considered before! It’s so inspirational that you have such an inspirational success story.
    And you really have a talent for it, I always get a chuckle from your jokes haha.
    P.S. When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up I STILL say mermaid 😉

    1. That’s a good one! I so wish I had thought of that to tell people when they ALWAYS asked when I was in high school!

      1. Katie Westbrook says:

        Haha I got it from my mom, she told people she was either going to be a mermaid or a princess. She says her job now is temporary…

  11. Jenny says:

    I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was little… A pretty realistic dream for a child, huh? I wanted to save all of the animals in the world, heh heh. I have my mom’s love of animals to thank for my own love of animals! But now, I’m in university and struggling with what I want to be, too. I love science. But I’m a business student. Bluh?! When someone talks to me about business, it’s like my interest and passion fizzes out and dies like a put-out firecracker, hah. Science? Ohgosh, I could ramble on forever about the latest scientific developments, especially in the naturopathic field or the traditional medical one.

    I’ve got perfectionistic tendencies, too, so it took a while to realise what you have pointed out about failures in this post: they’re not really failures, but ways you didn’t succeed.

    Thanks for this post! Well-written and really gets you thinking. I love your usual upbeat recipe posts and stories, of course, but these sorts of post are fantastic, too, in that you really have a way with words — well, written ones in this case but spoken, as well, I’m sure. 🙂

    [P.S. – Careful when blurring out photos in Photoshop to put subjects [food] in focus! I’ve done it to compensate for the fact that I’m not using a (D)SLR, but you have to keep stuff that’s in the same *field* as the subject in focus as well, like the front part of that blue ribbon in the second photo here. 😉 Don’t know if I’m making sense… and not trying to be critical! Hopefully this sounds like constructive criticism and not blaming or anything…]

    1. Thanks, Jenny! That’s actually an old photo from a few months ago… nowadays I try to blur more with my camera as opposed to photoshop. But I never knew just how far you’re supposed to take it before you stop. I always appreciate constructive criticism; if you ever have more, please feel free to leave it. I really do want to learn, but I don’t have time to take a class right now. So any help is always welcome ;).

  12. You’ve given me such a boost of confidence lately with ideas about the future. People ask me a lot what I’m going to do next year after school, and I’m fine right now saying I’m not sure because I’m pushing myself in the direction of my passions now instead of what I think I “should” do to fit into a mold of society. One of my favorite quotes is, “Somewhere along the line we seemed to have confused comfort with happiness.”- Dean Karnazeas. I love that– it reminds me to push myself out of my comfort zone and take risks because that can ultimately lead to a fulfilled and happy life!

  13. Right now I am 24 and working a 9-5 desk job in the field in which I got my degree in: finance. I basically did what was expected of me…go to college and get a job in whatever I was studying. But, this is not for me and I feel a bit stuck and unsure of what exactly is for me. I make good money doing what I do so going back to school for something else would be costly for me and my husband and a HUGE risk. My goal in the next five years is to find out what my passion is and then take that RISK. Without risk there is no reward… but, I just need to find that “passion” first!

    Congrats on finding your passion!

  14. When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher – ever since I was about 5 that’s what I’d say. I did my degree in education studies – still on track – but then in my second year of university I had my daughter. I still completed my 3 years at uni to get my degree, but career plans were put on hold.

    I’ve since had my son as well – daughter is 5 and he is 1.5. Now when people ask me what I want to be, I just don’t know. I love being a Mum and helping my children grow, but once they’re both at school? Lots of my friends have become teachers whilst I’ve been having children, and it’s kind of put me off the profession! I still believe the good sides of the job, but there are so many things my friends complain about, plus there are hardly any teaching jobs near where I live.

    So this very long ramble is to say that I used to be certain about what I wanted to be, but now, except for being a mum, I have no idea! Toby still has 1.5 years until he starts part-time pre-school, and 3 years til full-time school, so hopefully I still have a while to figure something out!

    I’m so happy you found your passions in food and photography, I love reading your blog and getting lots of yummy ideas! 😀

    1. My mom didn’t find her life’s calling until after my sister and I were both in high school and she went back to teach special ed! 🙂

  15. I’m glad you found something you love!! I’m 23 and in grad school and I’m still not sure what I want to do. But I am passionate about blogging!! I thought I wanted to leave my PhD program, but I know I’ll be disappointed in myself if I start and don’t finish, so I’m going to persevere and try to finish as soon as I can. Then, who knows?? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one!

    1. Genevieve says:

      reading through these comments, yours sounded very familiar! I have gone through the same doubts about my PhD program, as I am still not sure what I want to do with it. But I’ve also decided to stay with it and see what happens…meanwhile, I am becoming more passionate about the blogging world too!

      1. Completely off-topic… but I can’t leave a comment on your site b/c I don’t have a google or wp account. Hopefully you’ll see it here!

        On your latest post: Oh my goodness, thank you so much! I saw your beautiful photo on findingvegan and it just brightened my day so much!!
        Your blog is adorable! 🙂 🙂

        1. Genevieve says:

          Thanks, I’m so happy to hear that from you – you’ve just brightened my day now too!

          And thanks for pointing out the issue with my comments options – I’ve changed it now!

  16. VegAlexandra says:

    Wow, Katie, what a great time to post this! The school year starts in a minor five days, and I was just stressing about how much stress it will be to pull straight A’s again, since I have even more challenging classes.
    But, you rescued me!
    The thing is, I have a strong desire to become a veterinarian, and I know that requires a ton of work. So I feel like one poor grade will send my dreams down the drain!
    But I haven’t been thinking about the present whatsoever; I swear my brain is stuck in a time warp to the future and won’t return no matter the situation.
    But…. I think this post is pushing it back to today, August 17, 2011.
    THANK YOU! 😀

    1. Aww yay lol… and good luck!!! Definitely, passion trumps hard work. And it sounds like you have the passion!

  17. PBnJ Fam says:

    I just told someone yesterday… I don’t know what I want to be when I “grow-up”… and they gave me a weird look (I am almost 30 and have a 3 year old)… I did the college thing, got 2 degrees, worked really hard in my career and then decided I wanted to be a mom. Your words of wisdom are resonating in my mind right now “life is about being who you are right now…” I love it! It couldn’t have hit home more… I am a MOM, and a WIFE… that is who I am! SO many people define themselves by their career… I decided I am not going to that! What I decide to do for work from here on out is just that… work… There are a few who get to do what they love for work, and I applaud them – because that is a part of who they are! But from now on… I don’t want to worry about what I am going to be when I “grow up” because I already am something!!

  18. I always said I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger! I started college as an English major, but switched to English education my second semester. Now, I teach 10th & 11th graders!

  19. I got my undergrad degree in Biochemistry (after changing my major 4 times), then somehow learned about dietetics… it took awhile, but I eventually found my path, and I think being a dietitian is the perfect job for me.

  20. Leah says:

    I’m still a kid, and I tell people, “when I grow up, I want to be taller,” or, “when I grow up, I want to be an adult.” But really, I should say “if,” because I don’t really mind parents worrying about bills or driving me everywhere, and they don’t mind as long as I’m polite when I tell them we ran out of chocolate in record time and need more.

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