rebelling against low expectations

The Question: What Are You Going to Do When You Grow Up?


I shift uncomfortably in the back seat as all eyes in the car suddenly turn to me. A quiet giggle lingers on my lips as I play with my hands, struggling for the right words for The Question. Ah yes, The Question.

That Question.

“So Rachel, what would you like to do?”

Every teenager in the car has answered it flawlessly so far, as if they have stood in front of the mirror rehearsing it a dozen times. Of course, there’s the noble and intelligent Doctor. Then there’s the sophisticated and witty Lawyer. And let’s not forget that charming and charismatic Politician-in-the-making.

What do I want to do? What do I want to be? Where do I want to go? I don’t know.

Not only do I not know, I don’t have the slightest idea.

I used to be terrified of The Question. Why couldn’t I be one of the people who seems to “just know,” you know? The idea of that impending unknown slowly catching up to me with every passing day, the concept of The Future, used to paralyze me with fear. I didn’t want to choose, because choosing means committing, and committing means agreeing to the risk of failure.

No, I do not know what I want to be when I grow up, but there are some things I do know. I know that there is a God who knitted me together (Psalm 139:13), knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11), and for now, asks me to lean not on my own understanding, but rather lean on Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I may not know the exact occupation I want to hold when I grow up, but I know that I want people to know Jesus Christ, the Savior of my soul, and extend to them the love that He has lavished upon me.

A man named Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (imagine having to write that on your papers at school!) once said: “I have but one passion: It is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.”

My grandmother told me this: “You will be great at whatever you do, but you will be best at what God is calling you to do.”

And right now, God is calling me to love those around me. He is calling me to be the Salt and Light of the earth. He is asking me to seek Him, above school and fun and guys and all of the things that the world portrays as the most important.

To tell you the truth, it is kind of fun not to know. I could be a writer, or an FBI agent, or a missionary. I could be anything. And though that may be a little scary, a lot of the time fear is only being scared of the extraordinary things God can do through ordinary people like us.

So embrace not knowing. Embrace the awkwardness. Embrace The Question. Embrace living in the here and the now.

Trust isn’t built in good weather, but in the storms and the crashing waves. So trust. Trust that you can lean on Christ and that the path will be straight (Proverbs 3:6). He will not lead you to a dead end. Simply put one foot

in front of the other and walk in obedience.

Okay, where was I? Oh, yes, in the car.

So there I sit, among the future Doctors, Lawyers, and Politicians.

And then there’s me, fumbling for words like I am new to the English language. Only three words escape my lips, an unsure yet absolutely certain whisper, “I don’t know.” And as these words saturate the air around me, I can’t help but smile a little. I don’t know, but God does. And that is enough for now.

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Photo courtesy of Keirsten Marie and Flickr Creative Commons.

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About the author

Rachel Snyder

is a 16-year-old with a passion for writing, serving others, missions, and most of all Jesus Christ. She aspires to pursue Him in her everyday life and pour out the love He has shown her onto those around her. She is far from perfect, and rather plain and ordinary, but she serves a perfect and awesome God.


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  • I loved this, Rachel! That mirrors how i feel, like, all the time. It is awesome to know that i’m not the only one!

    • I’m so glad you were able to connect; it’s always encouraging to know we are not alone in our struggles!

  • I used to feel this way all the time. 🙂 Keep serving with all your heart in the places God puts you, and don’t be afraid to try new things. <3 He will direct your path.

  • That’s true. Even when we think we know what God wants us to do with our lives, we still need to continue to trust Him as our only guide. Since He is the Lord of our lives, He’s going to lead us down the way He wants to, and it might deviate from what we think the path of our lives should reasonably be. Its pretty exciting when God is doing great things.

  • You’re not the only one. I often wonder just how many of “us” there are. People who don’t know what they want for the future, who aren’t certain what God’s plan will entail for them. I wonder what they’re doing while waiting for a step to be made known.
    And what about the elders who have been in this exact stage? I’m sure there are some of them. Looking back, knowing how we’re feeling, what would they tell us?
    And how will God lead us? This is an exciting concept, in as much as it is terrifying and absolutely uncertain. But full of trust and confidence in God, I will lean on Him and follow Him as He should choose to lead.
    Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight(Proverbs 3:5-6).
    We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose(Romans 8:28 [HCSB]).
    Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established(Proverbs 16:3).

  • This is a great read! I can relate to this because there are young people in our community who have the same sentiments. Thank you Rachel for writing and sharing this. There’s a lot in store for you! I’ll wait for your next article! 🙂

  • I really think we should all ask ourselves this question when we are young. Just about 12 or so. Because if we start to accomplish our goals and gaining the skills we need for what we want to do with our lives early. We’d have learned a lot more than if we started when we were 18! That’s why it is so important to start at a young age! Brett Harris said to me,

    “One of the reasons it is so cool for young people to start early on projects, is because the skills we develop build on each other. The earlier we start, the further along we’ll be ten years from now and twenty years from now.”

    Great article Rachel! 😀

  • It seems like my younger asks me that like every day! And every day I tell her I don’t know. It feels kind of weird because just about every other 14-year-old knows what they want to do, but I don’t. Unless I could be a missionary or something like that.
    Another wonderful article! 🙂

  • Thank you for writting about this. It”s kinda encourageing to know that there are others like me that “don’t know” what they want to do either. Sometimes I think I’ve made up my mind, then other times I seem to be a little bit dubious. All I know is that God has somthing awesome in store for me. Honestly, I just want to do what He wants me to do.

    • I know the feeling all too well, but that is what makes life exciting-that we get to watch as He perfectly unfolds His plan!

  • Wow, this was perfect. I’m one of these who “doesn’t know”, but I hadn’t thought that way. Thank you!

    • The more I talk about it, the more I realize the “don’t know” group is not a lonely place to be! Thank you for taking the time to read!

  • Yes great article, I have decided to pretty much never say “I will” when I talk about my future. I usually say I plan or I want because right now I only know how I want to spread the word, but as of yet God’s the only one who knows the plan. So right now, I try to get things going so I’m not being wasteful with my time, but am ready to change to be, and to do, what God want’s me.

    • Yes, God’s plan is so much better than ours! It is a wonderful thing to learn to submit our will to His-something I am working on 🙂

      • Yes, and not only better, but the plan. It’s definitely not the easiest thing to accept, but I take it you know that. Thank you for the article!

  • I used to feel that way. I felt like I needed to know now! But then when I gave it to the Lord and let Him guild me I found out what I’m going to do. Train horses and write. And now I’ve dived head long into preparing myself for that. I’m making sure that I don’t miss if there is anything else God wants me to do though. Like moving to a different country and using my horse skills to be a witness is something that’s been rolling around. But the main point is to leave it to God.
    Thanks for the post Rachel! 🙂

  • Great article! I was at camp all last week and ran into this at least three or four times. But I have been thinking that when people ask that question, it could be a way to springboard into sharing the gospel- like you said:

    “No, I do not know what I want to be when I grow up, but there are some things I do know. I know that there is a God who knitted me together (Psalm 139:13), knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11), and for now, asks me to lean not on my own understanding, but rather lean on Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).

    I may not know the exact occupation I want to hold when I grow up, but I know that I want people to know Jesus Christ, the Savior of my soul, and extend to them the love that He has lavished upon me.”

    I am going to have to try this next time, thanks for writing!

    • It is an awesome way to share about the Gospel and what He is doing in our lives! Thank you for reading!

  • I’ve been going through this lately. Some people think I need to have my occupation for life and my college picked out! As my mom says, how many times will you change your mind between now and college? Life changes and we change as we get older. I do agree that we need to be prepared and ready for whatever comes, but we don’t need to try to “figure it all out” before the right time.

    When I feel “unprepared” because I don’t have a plan, what I’m really thinking is that God doesn’t know the right time to tell me His plan. I’m doubting that He knows best for me. Let me never doubt my Creator like that! How foolish can I be to doubt His wisdom? Yet most of us do at one point or another. It must be a sinful tendency, egged on by our culture.

    Great article! It has really helped me! =)

    Love in Christ,

    • Those are words of wisdom! I love how you said we need to be prepared, but we don’t need to have everything all figured out. He is always preparing us for His will in our lives, even when we can’t see it!

  • I’m in my third year of college and still completely clueless as to what I want to. Your article gave me a sense of comfort knowing I’m not alone, and it was a nice reminder that God is in control of my life and I need to lean on him more. So, all in all, thank you! 🙂

  • I love this article! Mainly because I can relate to it. I’m already 16 and don’t have a very good idea of what I will be doing in the future, I’ve been so worried about it because it seems that all my friends know exactly what they want to do!! Every time someone asks me the question I’m always like “uhhhh I dunno haven’t really thought bout it”. When in reality I have I just haven’t come up with an answer,but now after reading this article I felt a whole lot better knowing God will put me exactly where he wants me and all I have to do is follow him!!

  • I know just how you feel! People ask me The Question all the time, and I tell you, I am SO sick of it. I don’t know what I want to do yet, and a lot of people (mostly my friends) think that’s weird, or even unwise. The vibe I get from my friends is that I need to grow up as soon as I can. For example, I get teased for not having my licence yet. I could have gotten it 6 months ago when I turned 16 (the driving age here in New Zealand), but I chose not to because I was studying full time and wanted to give that my full attention. Now I am intending to get it sometime, but I am constantly being told I’m lazy for not getting it as soon as I could. It really annoys me. I live in a small town, and if I want to go somewhere I walk – I don’t NEED to drive yet. Walking is free, much healthier, and I enjoy it.

    I don’t have to grow up yet. I don’t want to, and I don’t need to. I am getting work experience, I enjoy being home-schooled still, and I am comfortable with who I am and what I’m doing right now.


    Sorry. Rant over. 😀

    • I can totally relate with the driver’s license thing. I haven’t gotten mine yet at 18 years old, and I am getting ragged about it.

  • Wow, this is great! I’ve been getting The Question a lot too lately (especially with school starting up soon) and I have to admit, it’s kind of unnerving to me. Thanks so much for the reminder to preach God’s word to myself everyday!

  • Rachel, this is fantastic! Ever since I was 7 (I’m 14 right now) I knew what I WANTED to be. Either a nurse or a midwife. It was only this year that I felt like being a midwife was something I really wanted to be after being present at my newest little brother’s birth. It was such an amazing experience. And I realize that that might not be something everyone would be so enthusiastic about. =) So, while this might not be exactly what happens because only God knows what my calling is, I really feel like being a midwife is something I want to be. And not everyone knows what they want to be. I don’t know why I know what I want to be. It could be (and probably is) so that I could have plenty of time to study and work hard on my grades so my dream can come true. Like math and science. They are not easy subjects for me, but if working hard at those is what it takes, then that is what I am going to do. God bless you!

    • Ha! I too just realized that I think I want to pursue a degree in nursing, and I’m having to realize I’m going to have to work hard in school (especially in math and science 😉 ) I’ve found I tend to learn the best when I take charge of my learning and am determined, if that makes sense. I found an online program that offers free school courses, and so I’ve been doing that by myself while still doing my normal school (I’m homeschooled and do almost everything with my brother or another sibling) and I feel like I actually enjoy it and while I am learning. I hope this may encourage you or help you find ways you can ‘take charge’ of your learning and be able to work hard to make your dream come true! 🙂

      • Thanks Madison! I am home schooled too. I have to work really hard at math and science. But I have found that by giving it over to God, I have gotten better and I understand what they are talking about more. I have found a school just for midwifery. It is really great and I’ll put the link at the bottom. But it is in Arkansas because it is against the law in Alabama to be a midwife. 😛 And they don’t suggest taking the online course because you can quit easier and you don’t have the ability to have on hand experience. God bless!

  • am i really the youngest kid here i see 15 or 14 on here im only 12 and there all kinds of things i want to do and i have a dicussion of something i want to do and im not sure if i should its not bad or anything

    • Hey EternalShockWave! You’re definitely not the youngest here. Maybe you’re one of the younger ones to comment on this article, but we have many other 12-year-olds on the website. Feel free to share your thoughts and hopefully other users will respond.

  • Usually whenever someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I usually say I would like to be a veterinarian!! Why? Because (somewhere) in the Bible it says that man is supposed to take care of the God’s animals:) And I also love doing it!!! But sometimes I’m not so sure that that is what I want to do sometimes. How do I know if God is telling me that that is what I’m going to do or not?

  • oh my goodness this is a question i ask myself constantly and i look around at the world around me and see all my friends and they know what they want to do and their vary successful and i look at me and i’m like what’s my excuse who am i? who am i meant to be? one of my friends once said ‘don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something cause you can’ and that so stuck with me so know i’m determend to go beyond the worlds and my parents expectations of who i can be. cause we can do anything we’re young so know whenever i think about it i’m like it doesn’t matter cause i can do anything if i just put my mind to it. don’t get discouraged God’s their and he will make your purpose known to you no matter what. so yeah. and know i’m determined to be a musician i know i can do it with God anything is possible. with him the impossible is possible. Never Forget That!

  • Thanks for this article. Recently, God has been teaching me to trust Him more and more. This just reinforces that, yes, I will trust Him. He is my Rock and my Salvation. If He is with me, whom then shall I fear?

    God bless!
    – Trent

  • oh my goodness this is something that i always think about. i worry over it and get a lot of sleepless nights over it. what am i going to do? the question arises. I just have to trust in God to show me on His time what i’m supposed to be doing and we’re i’m supposed to be 🙂


  • I have had the same problem too and I still do.I am not sure what I want to be and now is the time to make that decision.Good luck with your future!Plus I love your biography (whatever you call it)!It made me laugh and fits well into the theme of this post.It’s god’s life, not ours:)

  • I love this article! I have those same feelings resonating in me.
    It’s even more pressuring now that I’m graduating this month. I was dreading having to answer The Question to all my friends and family at my graduation party until now. It’s strange sometimes that peace that comes from not knowing what will happen, but knowing He has everything under control.

    Thank you for the great read!

  • Thank you so much for this article!! I am really struggling with “The Question” right now and as a person that likes everything planned, waiting and trusting is SO HARD for me! Thank you for these words of encouragement 🙂

  • I would recommend to guys at least that if even if you don’t know what you want to do in the long run, if you are nearing graduation take stock of your abilities and try to find a field which can use those and then pursue it. Meanwhile, you might find out that you really like that field or something related to it. Case in point, I knew I was good with the sciences and mathematics so I pursued mechanical engineering even though at times I doubted I would enjoy it. Over the course of my freshman year not only did I find it to be enjoyable, even if renowned, and rightly so, for its difficulty, but I also discovered that I had a greater affinity for electrical engineering than I did for mechanical, and therefore switched my major. Definitely trust God and be open to His specific leading but as I guy I know I will one day be responsible to provide for my family and therefore already have my orders. I already know I need to gain some means to do that. Girls, you are in a different boat since, as I understand biblical gender roles, you may well graduate high school with the life skills you need for motherhood and therefore are kinda free to head wherever you want unless you are one of those who say, desires to be a doctor. But then you already know what you want to do so this post is irrelevant to you. 🙂

    • @programguy:disqus liked this! There’s a compliment 🙂 He doesn’t upvote people much anymore!

  • This article really resonated with me! Being a second-year college student, people around me are constantly asking me what I am going to do, and I answer with either an “I don’t know” or “_____ or _____, but I’m not totally sure”. It’s really stressful, and me being someone who likes to plan things out, not knowing the plan is the most stressful part! I love knowing I’m not the only one, and it helps to have the image of putting one foot in front of another for this! Thanks!

rebelling against low expectations

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