When I was a child, I was often bombarded with the message that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grow up if I just believed in myself and “shot” for the stars. The message was so ingrained in my upbringing that I often dreamed of being a singer, a famous gymnast, an actress, a famous blues saxophone player. The fact that I couldn’t sing, that I barely had any training as gymnast, that I was very shy, and that I couldn’t play the saxophone didn’t matter to my young mind. What mattered was the possibility–the possibility of being whatever I wanted to be without limits.
I discussed this with a friend a few weeks ago. We were reminiscing about how things were when we were 16, living-on-the-edge, and feeling as if the “grown up” world needed to come faster. Even when we were 16 we still believed in possibilities, in doing whatever we wanted, in not having a care in the world. I’m not sure what happened between then and now. I’m still the same. I believe in possibility, in pursuing dreams, and in being whatever you want to be even if comes at a price or at an “expense”. Then again I’ve been told by many that I’m a “big kid” trapped in adult’s body.
This friend, who I’m not as close to anymore, does not believe in the concept anymore. Matter of fact she told me that when she has a child, she plans on telling her child the truth. That you can’t be whatever you want to be. That life isn’t always about shooting for the stars and pursuing your dreams. She went on to say that some things will never happen if one is talented enough, and that sometimes our dreams our beyond our reach and we have to accept that. She also said that the reality is that YES in some aspects you can be what you want to be, but at what price? Yes you can be an aspiring artist, but live on the brink of poverty while you paint. Yes you can try to become a world-famous novelist, but what are you to do in the meantime while you wait for your book to become a hit? Yes you can try to become a musician, but will it pay your bills? Her point was that the reality is that certain careers are more economically feasible than others and that we should be honest with our child about that. She also pointed out that making it seem as if there are no limits to achieving what we want, is harmful to children because it doesn’t take into account the fact that some careers require skill and talent that our child might lack.
Now obviously she made some pretty great points. Some worthy of consideration. But overall she was very negative, and too practical for my taste–which is one of the reasons we aren’t as close anymore. Anyway I still hold on to the belief that we can be whatever we want to be, that when there is a will there is a way, and that there should be “no limits” placed upon our children into pursuing their dreams. Even if their dreams aren’t economically feasible or even if they MAY lack a certain skill set. But maybe this is wrong of me. Who knows. All I know is that a child without dreams, with limits, with the expectation of a harsh reality–simply is not the type of child I’d want to raise.