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Birth of a Career

Susan Notes:

"College and career ready" dominates all boilerplate government language on education. We can hope that Jonathan's plaintive question will make some adults stop--and, if they can't think, at least shut up.

And Philip Galanes' advice is perfect.

By Philip Galanes
July 13, 2014

Social Qs

I am 11 years old. Practically every adult I meet asks me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" This would be really cute if I was 4 and could say, "Fireman." But I'm in the fifth grade and have no idea what I want to do for work 10 years from now. How can I respond that won̢۪t get me in trouble with my parents?

Jonathan, New York

I would tell you the lame questions stop once you hit puberty, but even at 11, you would know I was lying. Remember that these people are trying to be friendly (in a lazy and predictable way). And saying, "I don't know," will only prompt them to ask which subjects you like in school, making these conversations even longer. One option: "Lay it down, flip it and reverse it," as Missy Elliott sang the year before you were born. You can say: "I'm not sure. When did you know?" Most adults like talking about themselves much more than listening. Just be prepared to fake interest.

— Philip Galanes
New York Times



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