“A detective so that I can solve crimes and catch the bad guys.”

This was my first childhood ambition.

I was probably influenced by the television shows that I watched, such as Pink Panther, Matlock and countless Hong Kong detective dramas which often involved plenty of chasing and fighting.

I imagined ambushing the criminals from behind a corner with a revolver and dealing them with a karate chop or two. Some of you might recognise this picture from a recent “Going Places” post 😉


What about you? What did you want to be when you were young?

Have you seen this brilliant advertisement by Monster.com that was first screened in 1999?

In here, young children declare their ambition to “be a yes man/woman”, “have a brown nose” and “to file all day” – a refreshing reminder for everyone who is stuck in a job that they do not like!


When I was around 11, I thought I would be a politician or lawyer.

The 1991 Singapore General Election was the first one held after Lee Kwan Yew stepped down as Prime Minister of Singapore and the unprecedented losses by the ruling PAP party were all over the news. I was fascinated with the statistics and presented them in front of my class during a practice for our English oral examination.

I soon realised that I wasn’t actually interested in politics, policy/law-making or defending people in the courts of the law. I simply liked talking in front of an audience.

During my teenage years, I was in the “Science stream”, as categorised by the Singapore education system which I felt was too rigid and keen to put young, formative minds into pigeon-holes.

My dream job fluctuated between being an audio engineer (for the superficial reason that it sounded more unusual than a civil/mechanical/electrical engineer) and a photojournalist (so that I could travel and meet people).

Growing up in Singapore in the 1980-90s, I was often told that it would be good to be an engineer as you would definitely have a professional, well-paying job after graduation. While majority of my peers from the “Science stream” ended up studying engineering in university, I decided that it would be more fun to study Psychology. So I did.

Topics relating to gender, abnormal and deviant psychology interested me tremendously. I considered becoming a criminal psychologist but shelved the idea as it didn’t seem like Singapore would offer many challenges for someone in this profession.


When I turned one, my relatives brought food and presents for my birthday celebration.


As part of a local ‘tradition’ amongst the Chinese in Singapore, I was set in front of various items including a ruler, a plate of food, a book, a box of crayons and a bell. The first item that I was to pick would (supposedly) determine my future career path when I grow up.

I have no idea where this ‘tradition’ came from but I think most people continue to do it for fun.

What did I choose?


Apparently, those one-year-old toddlers who pick a book over the other items are destined to be intelligent and become scholars when they grow up. Sounds good to me!



15 replies on “When I grow up, I want to be…

  1. Now, this is a topic I must write on someday!! BTW, we bengalis have a very similar ceremony where the kid is set in front of various items, and yes, picking up a book, is considered to seal your fate as a scholar! 🙂 BTW, I wanted to become a bus ticket collector( amongst other things) as a kid! 🙂

    1. You must, indeed! Would be interesting to learn about what it’s like in your part of the world. Ah, being a bus ticket collector is probably something kids today are not familiar with 😉

  2. When I was a kid, i wanted to be a detective too! I envisioned myself dressed like a sleuth, like Sherlock, with a hat and a long brown coat. I really liked the Pink Panther, and Scooby Doo TV shows too…and was always fascinated at how fast the cops on TVB dramas reacted to any situation. As I got older, I wanted to be a radio presenter. That didn’t really work out…now I’m thinking my calling is to be a writer.

    You seem to have many interests there. You got a lot of presents and toys as a kid 😀 Your childhood must have been extremely fun!

  3. The adult me still would love to be a detective 😉 – but I always wanted to be a writer, and while those roads have taken many twists and turns, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  4. This post just reminded of my childhood! Haha with all the Sherlock homes and scoopy doo, they make me want to be a detective too when I was still a little kid!

  5. What a fun tradition! We don’t have anything similar in Greece, at least I not back when I was a one-year-old! Probably that’s why I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! At least now I know where your wisdom comes from 🙂

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