In sociology the process of how we learn culture is called socialization. In my opinion, that term (and process) is the key to everything. Once understood, it can explain and heal social problems on a micro (individual) as well as macro (all of society) scale.
From the moment our family finds out about a the existence of a new child in utero, in the hospital or even in, say Guatemala (adoption counts too!), the process of socialization begins. Buying baby clothes in one color or another, furnishing a nursery or making the decision that a nursery isn't necessary. Thinking of names. Making plans.
As infants we learn through touch and taste and smell and sound. So we begin the woven stories of our lives. As children, either from families noticing a propensity for one trait or another, or through media outlets (TV, radio etc), or even through books, we begin to form an idea of what we want to "be" when we are all grown up.
The earliest answers are interesting. They are firmly based in the wonderment of childhood. Children don't lie about what interests them. Most grown up people, if they can remember their original answer, secretly still wish that they could go back and become that cowboy, policeman, ballerina, baseball player, fireman, veterinarian, doctor, nurse, mommy, daddy, super hero, villain, or in my case Nun.
Yes that's right. I said Nun. But let's stop laughing and look into this. I believe it all began with a white turtleneck that got stuck on my head. Most of you will know what I'm talking about. I was getting ready for a bath and I must have pulled off the shirt and it got stuck on my head so when I looked in the mirror what I saw was... a six year old Nun. And that's when it started. My obsession. My grandmother, pained by my mother's bohemian ways, took me to church on Sundays. I fell in love with the statues and the rosary beads and the order... and the quiet.
I watched movies with Nuns and TV shows with Nuns and I walked around with my hair wrapped in black scarves my hands folded together in prayer. I frequently wouldn't talk because of "Vows of Silence." It drove my vibrant, antidisestablishmentary mother... bonkers.
When I turned nine I fell in love and that was that. Nun worship over. BUT... if we look at the reasons why I wanted to become a Nun in the first place, we can learn a lot about my childhood. And, for the purposes of self exploration on the road to BLISS, that is a really important thing to do.
I didn't ever want to be one of those "In society helping people out Nuns" I wanted to be a cloistered, gardening, silent, little room with a white bed and stone walls kind of Nun. I craved order, and solitude, and a less glittery kind of lovely than what surrounded me. I needed quiet inside my head. I wanted peace. Simple. See? And now that I've discovered the truth behind my desire, I can understand myself better. I understand what I need when I am frazzled... my hands in the earth, a quiet day, a bit of alone time. Oh, and I've always been a fan of the uniform.
For writers, we need to create a socialization process for each character. It lets us know the motivation behind why they do what they do. Very important. For parents, it is always good to foster our child's true desires. Your sons and daughters may not become famous ball players, but if they love the game, why not become sports journalists... or something along those lines. As spouses, how nice is it to figure out a hidden dream inside those we love and cultivate it?
What about you? Who did you want to be when you grew up? Did you become it? Do you incorporate some of it in your own lives? Tell me!