Full text of Cecilie Johnsrud’s talk titled “What is your dream job” at TEDxYouth@FortWorth conference
Listen to Audio:
Who here has a job?
All right. Now, keep your hands up if you have a job that you love.
I am a junior in high school, which means that I am only one year away from deciding where to go to college. And I’m only five years away from deciding what it is that I want to be when I grow up.
But what should I be?
I like international relations. But a job in politics won’t necessarily pay well. And elections means that you can lose your job every two to six years.
I’ve been told I’d make a good lawyer or I could always go into business. That’s a safe option.
I’ve been told that a job is not a passion. A job is a thing you do from nine to five for five days a week, to make a steady six figure income for 40 city years before retiring to a comfortable retirement plan.
You should never be miserable in your job, but you don’t have to love it either. No one dreams about being a financial adviser. But it pays well, so you should consider it.
This notion of setting aside ambitions for a city salary haunts many teenagers like myself currently looking for their future dream job.
But my family has taught me to pursue a job based on what I love. I remember the first time I was thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up.
When I was in first grade, we had a career day where we had to pick a job, write about it and draw a little picture and present it to the class.
You know, first-grade things. Everyone said they wanted to be a firefighter or superhero or princess. And I said that I wanted to be a supermodel.
Now, my mom and my grandmother were not very pleased because the year before my dream job was to solve global warming. And to them, supermodel was a bit of a step down from a scientist that, you know, saves the world.
But my dad said to them, at least she doesn’t want to be a model, she wants to be a supermodel. It was the ambition that he was proud of.
And that is a message that has stayed with me throughout my childhood when I wanted to be a lawyer, a CEO or even a supermodel, my parents told me that I could do it. And that is a message that I believe cultivates great adults.
For example, at the Olympics, alongside natural ability, hard work and dedication, these Olympians share one thing in common: the affirmation from their families that they are great and if they can do it.
Chloe Kim, the half pipe gold medalist in snowboarding this year, has the affirmation from her father. At the age of eight, She he realized that she had the ability to go far in snowboarding and did everything he could to help her pursue that dream.
There also Lindsey Vonn, the four time Olympian skier whose grandparents have cheered her on since she hit the slopes.
But I am not an Olympian. I’ve never won any gold medals and said I’ve had many interests, at one point I wanted to be a president, the next a superspy. So my parents couldn’t help me grow my interests like an athlete because my interests kept changing.
What they did instead was consistently encourage me and tell me that I could do it. And it hasn’t just been my parents and it’s been my parents and my teachers and my uncles and my Girl Scout troop leaders and my friends and everyone; all have helped me become confident.
Now, I’d like to talk about my current interest Model United Nations. I discovered the club in freshman year and I fell in love with it. The real-world scenarios, problem solving, and bonding among delegates is something not replicated in any other activity.
Before I knew it, it was sophomore year and I was one of the leaders of the club. Then junior year rolled around and I moved to a new state with a new high school and a new club.
In January in the Houston area conference and I decided that this event, this club, and this future was something that I really loved and I wanted to give it my 100 percent.
So I went to the conference. I did my best and I walked away with an outstanding delegate award. Now, this would be when most people would smile, congratulate themselves, and wait for next year’s conference. But I wanted more. I didn’t want more awards per se.
I wanted to keep doing this thing that I thought was so fun. So I went online and I found another conference, the National High School Conference in New York City. I told my parents and they encouraged me to apply.
We hopped on a plane using every penny of my birthday bank account savings. And I spent four days in New York City representing Yemen and the Economics and Finance Committee debating cryptocurrencies. Fun, right?
I’m also going this summer to China for a model U.N. program as part of a special program for passionate delegates. And I hope to take my love of this club and expand my school’s program next year for other students to share the interest.
I have found what I think is my passion. But without the help of my parents, I would not have been able to make the achievements I have. For them to encourage me to step beyond my comfort zone and risk everything, it’s something that I have learned because of their encouragement.
And it all started with me wanting to be a supermodel. You see, I might not have become a supermodel. Not yet anyway. Instead, I have found new interests that excite me even more. But the message that: yes, you can, that started when I was a first-grader has followed me with each and every new ambition I take upon myself as.
Here I have some Barbies. Let’s pretend that the Barbies are me at one point. I wanted to be environmental scientist Barbie. The next, It was supermodel Barbie. Then, it was CEO Barbie, Then ski jumper Barbie and then Diplomat Barbie and so forth and so forth.
But in the end, despite those career differences, those are all Barbies. And despite my different aspirations, I am all me. My dream careers have changed. But what has stayed with me is when my parents have encouraged me that I can achieve what I set my mind to.
Looking into the future, I do not know what I will be. It could be a ski jumper or a politician, but it could very well change. What matters in the future is that I love what I’m doing. And with the help of my parents, I know that if I set my mind to a goal, I have all the ability to achieve it.
Now, I’d like to go back to my initial question, who here loves their job?
And my message to all of you is, let’s encourage the next generation to love theirs, to not only have a job but to love their job.
To do this, we must teach them to be ambitious. For ambitious minds, create success. And imagine if we can still this passion and to each and every person, undoubtedly our future generation will change the world for the better with the drive that comes from doing what you love. And for me, that is a world that I want to live in.
– Cecilie Johnsrud