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From Where We Sit

When I grow up

Anton Ng

Contestants for Little Miss Philippines on a noontime variety show were often asked the question: “Ano gusto mong maging paglaki mo? (What do you want to be when you grow up?)” The question brims with hope for the future. Today, however, kids have access to much more information; and so, the same question brings with it more than just hope. In a way, it also makes kids worried.

Over the long weekend, my preteen daughter shared her concern: she does not know what she wants to be when she grows up. She was worried that she might not be good enough for whatever it is that she wants.

I shared to her that I, too, had no idea about what I wanted to do until I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in accountancy; that I, too, did not feel adequate; that I, every now and then, am still not very clear of what I want to be when I grow up. I told her that when I was young, I wanted to be an architect, notwithstanding my complete inability to draw more than a stick figure, because I wanted to build a house for my family.

At my age, I am not 100 percent clear on where I want to end up. I have different thoughts on where my career will lead me. However, after accepting that not all my dreams and aspirations may come to fruition and I still have to pursue them anyway, I want to imbibe the following traits when I grow up:

I want to be unafraid of learning and experiencing new things. Very early into my fatherhood, I told myself that I will, as much as I can, be interested in the interests of younger generations. I figured that is one of the best ways for me to remain in touch with what my kids will be excited about. I want to be able to relate to them as much as they are able to relate to me. As I immersed myself in the latest trends and fads, I realized that I am not only doing this so I can still relate with my kids, but so I can also relate to the younger generations I am working with. When I grow up, I still want to have that passion to discover and learn new things. This mindset not only keeps me interested in what is new, but it also enables me to be more patient and open to learn new things.

I want to keep my ego in check. I do not want to think too highly of myself and be easily offended when someone younger voices out their opinions. Over the past two generations, we hear younger people complain that there are times when the older generation’s only defense against a young person’s opinion is that the latter does not know anything, simply because of their age. When I grow up, I want to remember that I do not have the monopoly on knowledge, that my years of experience do not automatically make my point of view correct, that age cannot be used as the sole basis for determining who wins an argument. When I grow up, I still want to act mature.

I want my patience to never leave me. I have been noticing lately that my patience is not as long as it once was, that the amount of time before I snap is getting shorter, that my pettiness is becoming more prevalent. Maybe it is because my ego is starting to inflate or my responsibilities are just exponentially growing; hence, time is becoming more valuable. Regardless, the expansion of my responsibilities should not be used as a license for me to snap at people. When I grow up, I want to retain my patience but, at the same time, not sacrifice the demand for excellence.

I want to retain my passion to pursue my purpose. As we grow older, there is the temptation to just mail it in, to just relax and slack off, to forego the continuous pursuit of our purpose. When I grow up, I still want to live out my purpose to the fullest, to not use my advancing age as an excuse to compromise the fulfillment of my purpose.

I realized that the way I answered the same question—what do I want to be when I grow up—has changed as I grow older. When I was young, my answer is based mostly on what I want to achieve in life in terms of professions, job titles, and possessions. In my midlife, however, the answer changed to something more relational, something more outward looking. It is probably because, as I grow older, I realized there are more important things in life.

When I grow up, I want to value other people more than I want to feel valued.

Anton Ng is a Partner in the Audit and Assurance division of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 23 partners and more than 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit our website:


As published in The Manila Times, dated 28 August 2019