What do you want to be when you grow up? Don't laugh. That can make a lot of difference in your life. In my humble opinion, there are far too many variables in a young person's life related to that question. Of course, we all had our dreams of youth: "I want to be a veterinarian!" "I want to be a baseball player!" "I want to be a fireman!" Obviously, these dreams are inspired by influential local circumstances. The aspiring veterinarian might live on a farm or have a love of horses, dogs, or other pets. The Mickey Mantle wannabe probably sees a lot of games on TV, visits regional stadiums, and follows his or her favorite team. The future fireman likes those big, loud, red trucks and dreams of hanging out with the crew at the fire station. These are all legitimate aspirations.
However, reality has a way of modifying both plans and a life's path. Economics, personal health, and family dynamics all play a part in how a developing young person sees both the world and him/herself. If I may reflect on my own developmental years (okay, I hear you groaning out there!), I see a few major forces at work that forged the path that I took. One was health. I had a rough start coming into this world (so I'm told) and up through second grade, I rather thought of myself as an underdog of sorts. I couldn't participate in a lot of activities that my friends did because of my alleged (as they turned out to be) physical issues. Another issue was financial, although I had no idea about the kinds of money problems my parents were facing. A third was locale. The neighborhood in which I grew up was a lower-middle-class, blue collar community, where Moms stayed home and Dads worked hard all week and then had to catch up on domestic needs on the weekends. Thus, many of my friends had somewhat absentee Dads and developed under the influential eye of their Moms.