Kate Livingstone: Happiness is the key to perfect role in life

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What do you want to be when you grow up is a question that we’re all guilty of asking youngsters.

I’m not sure what we expect them to say – do we really anticipate they have a desire to be a brain surgeon aged six or an entrepreneur when they’re 12?

However, I’m as bad as the next person and I’ve asked my children and then my grandchildren the age old question.

There are probably a few folk out there who knew from an early age that they wanted to be a nurse, a teacher or a vet but they’re probably the exception to the rule.

That’s why I feel it’s so difficult for youngsters having to make subject choices at secondary school and even once they leave school decide what they want to do.

I vaguely remember when I was a primary school in Falkirk our class was part of a university study. What it was about I’m not sure but I do remember that once a week a man and woman would come into our class and give us things to do.

The female made the most impact because she had very long legs ... and very short skirts. Well it was the Sixties and this was a new fashion.

I also remember that our parents received a visit to give them the results of whatever the tests were and to ask about their aspirations for us.

Years later mum used to regale everyone with the story that the woman asked what they hoped I would be when I was older.

“Happy,” said mum.

“No, but what do you want for her?” said the woman.

“Happiness,” was the reply.

“But what would you like her to do,” said the exasperated university female.

“Something that makes her happy.”

“But what profession!”

To which my mum, realising that she wasn’t going to get away with this response much longer, said “oh a doctor”.

Now anyone who knows me that the least sight of blood makes me squeamish, injections make me faint and I’m hopeless at science subjects.

So not really doctor material then.

However, although it sometimes pains me to say it but my old mum was right back then.

Being happy is all we can want for our young people – hopefully doing a job that brings them fulfilment but also that gives them the satisfaction of putting their talents to good use.

To everyone embarking on new journeys in further education or employment in weeks to come, good luck.