When did we lose the dream?
When we were children we told our parents and teachers that when we grew up we wanted to be astronauts, pilots, deep sea divers and more. The world really was our oyster.
As teenagers these dreams changed to footballers, actors, dancers, singers, doctors, vets, chefs and yet more.
So what happened to our youthful dreams? Most people I know are accountants, human resources managers, work in customer services, sales, marketing or IT. I wonder how many of them dreamt that one day they would be marketing manager for a corporation…..
I remember what I said I would be when I was older. I was going to be the next female Prime Minister (I seem to recall not being overly impressed by the first one growing up). Or I was going to be the first female bishop. (That was when I was going through a bit of a religious phase.) Like most teen girls I harboured dreams of acting, singing…..never dancing though, as you’ll understand if you’ve ever seen me dance.
I remember telling my mum about these dreams, and her telling me “go on then”. She didn’t mock me or tell me “that won’t pay the bills” or “what happens when you fail?”
So what happened to my dreams?
I think the world stopped being so black and white and took on numerous shades of grey. And I realised I wasn’t keen enough on politics, feminism or religion to put in the necessary work to reach either of those dreams.
Having said that, I think a lot of our younger hopes and aspirations never get off the ground because of grown-ups. How many of you dreamt of doing or being something, only to have a parent or teacher say that it wasn’t worth it? That you’d never achieve it. That you were going to fail or they weren’t going to support you, so basically “don’t bother”.
I’ve spoken to quite a few friends about this and everyone concurs that their parents wouldn’t have approved of them pursuing their dreams. So they studied for careers, got jobs that pleased their parents.
My siblings and I are lucky as our parents have pretty much let us do what we want, supporting us and telling us that if we put our minds to it, that we can do it. Meaning that 2 of us have set up our own businesses, 4 out of 5 of us have lived abroad. We have changed degree courses, and changed careers, often leaving well-paid jobs for the unknown.
L (at the tender age of nearly 8) tells me already what she wants to be when she grows up. So far we have had doctor-gymnast. Yes, that is hyphenated. According to her it is a doctor, who is also a gymnast, and looks after her fellow gymnasts when they hurt themselves. Another favourite is to be an acrobat with animals.
Whilst I’m not sure what qualifications she might need for these jobs, I try to encourage her. I tell her that she can be whatever she wants to be. That the world is her oyster.
Hubs and I are not risk-averse. We have left our fair share of well-paid jobs to set up businesses or change countries, and we will always tell our girls to follow their dreams. If you are going to do a job 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 40+ years, you want to make sure it’s one you’re happy with.
So keep on dreaming, people. And help your kids to live their dreams.
To quote from one of my favourite films, Pretty Woman, “What’s your dream?”