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?”
As a parent I have a different perspective on this now I think as I’m more concerned that our little people don’t have professions that are risky or dangerous when they grow up. At the moment – and at just 5 years old – the eldest wants to be a policewoman. That’s a scary thought for me to be honest but it’s her dream and for her to dream it. Lovely post x
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I totally get that too – when I see L climbing, jumping, handstanding and more I occasionally get that shiver of fear, but then I tell myself I can’t always protect her and instead I make sure she knows what she’s doing as best I can. I know what you mean though re the police as someone close to me is in the police and you do wonder…
Such an interesting post. I went through phases when I was growing up and there were different jobs on the table but the overriding one was to be a writer (I am still working on that). I think the whole idea of dream jobs has changed for kids today with the whole reality TV thing offering an ‘easy’ route into fame and fortune.
As parents, I think you are right to go with what they want. The important thing is for them to be happy and yes in an ideal world we want them to have good jobs and earn lots of money, but happiness and enjoying what they are doing is more important. I learnt that with the teen when he chose his uni course as I wanted him to do English and he chose creative writing, in the end I knew that he should do the course that he would enjoy and get the most out of.
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I was thinking about reality TV when I wrote this as things are so different now. What a supportive mum, I know a lot of parents who would have pushed for a more general degree course, like English. But it’s true they will always excel in what they like/are good at rather than what they’re forced to do. As for you I’d say you’re a writer already, isn’t a blogger a writer after all? Thanks for your comment and for sharing 🙂 x
Wonderful post Sophie! I seem to recall my dream was to be a teacher and I was, of sorts, albeit a gymnastics teacher/coach which was my longest career (8 years). I feel that I have lost my dreamer’s spirit a bit. Mainly because of reality! I express a hope or wish to my very tolerant husband and he reminds me of the reality. I need coaching I think…know anyone??
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Thanks lovely. Maybe you need to be L’s gymnastics teacher/coach?!? I am lucky in that Hubs is always ready to listen to any crazy dreams and often we plunge into them (once we’ve weighed up pros and cons). We both figure out that you only live once so it is worth taking calculated risks if it will make you happier. I draw up ideas of what I want to do and then figure out how to make them happen, i.e. I want to be with my kids and blog/write but I need an income – solution is become a childminder, which has worked out brilliantly. I’m convinced that every problem has a solution, think outside of the box, look at it from every angle and I’m sure there’s a solution to every dream….. Hubs always tells me I’m the world’s biggest optimist! Enjoy the dreams 🙂
Great post! Dont’ hate me though, but I’m one of those people who is living my dream 🙂
I always wanted to be a writer, even making magazines from scratch and the fact that I do it now for a living never fails to amaze me sometimes. Ok, so I haven’t written for Vogue or the New York Times (yet) as i’d hoped but I earn a very good living writing about stuff that I love which is good enough for me.
Dreams are so important and life is for living and giving things a shot. I’m so delighted to hear that you and your husband are not ‘risk adverse’ and that you’re encouraging your children to reach for the stars. The world is ours for the taking and even though we may not end up exactly where we wanted to, our dreams should be our inspiration. I do my best to try and get that through to Elsie, every single day xxx
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Ooh, I don’t hate you at all, that sounds wonderful! I’m not sure I’m 100% living my dream, but I’m not far off really. You are so successful and should be so proud of everything you’ve achieved 🙂 x
Love this! The dream for me was always a writer, but I imagine fiction books – not writing for small business websites and blogging! But at least I’m not a million miles off! I like to think I won’t ever dampen my kids’ dreams – if my daughter wants to be a dancer, I’m not going to stop her, because she’s a blimmin’ good dancer. There’s time to be grown up after that.
Sounds like your daughter is heading for a career as a physio.
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Well I’d say you’re on the right track to be a writer – I would very much recommend reading “On writing” by Stephen King if you haven’t already, reading that got me putting pen to paper (finger to keyboard) and writing my first 2 bilingual children’s stories (coming very soon – illustrations just being finished now). From what I’ve seen your daughter would be an amazing dancer! And yes, physio could be a good role for L – she’d be following in her great uncle’s footsteps too….
Such an insightful post. I have been thinking about this for quite some time now. How can I help my children retain their enthusiasm for life and be open to challenges? I want them to believe that as long as they are healthy, they can achieve everything they put their minds to. They just need to have goals and be prepared to put the effort. As my daughter is already 9 and will be moving to secondary education in a year and a half, I am a little bit concerned about how peer pressure to fit in as well as the culture in the school are going to influence her.
I worry about peer pressure too, as there’s only so far we as parents can influence our kids, but I suppose we just have to hope that if we’ve instilled good values then everything will work out for the best….well that’s how I reassure myself in any case!
I don’t know what I wanted to be as a child, my best guess is a writer because I used to rewrite the end of books when I was disappointed with them.
At 5, B currently has two ambitions; hairdresser or horse rider. At the moment I see my role as not discouraging any of her ideas.
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I love that you rewrote the end of books that disappointed you – brilliant! I think that’s what it’s all about, not discouraging them in whatever they want to be/do.
Love this post! Dreams are so important. I’m soon to publish a post about my recent loss of dream, or pause in following in it anyway. At 26 I’m pretty impressed it managed to stay so long. I wanted to be a world renowned pop singer/songwriter… and was pursuing it until recently, when biology kicked in and made me want to focus on bringing up a family.
I truly believe that anyone can do whatever they set their mind to though – and hope I can teach this to my son. He CAN do whatever he really wants to. With hard-work, dedication and vision.
The path to my dream is taking a slight detour, and maybe ‘world fame’ is not so important to me, but doing something with my talent is. I think it’s important that children are also taught that there is no ‘one way’ to get where you want to be. For me, I will be focusing on my career as a copywriter, to bring in a stable income, and THEN pursuing music when I have the time and money to spare on making it exactly how I want, for the art of it.
Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but there’s nothing wrong with following your dreams however they evolve. We only get one chance at this, so we may as well make it truly enjoyable.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” Henry David Thoreau
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I think dreams change and evolve with age, especially when you have kids, often what was important before isn’t for a while and may come back later on, or not. It’s great that you’ve adapted to make sure you’re still happy with your new dream.
Wow, it’s a hard question. Actually, to an extent, I am living my dream. When I was six, I wanted to be a journalist and a writer. I’ve been doing that as a job since I was 23. But actually, as a parent, I don’t tell Flea she can have or do or be anything she dreams of.
I’ve a horror of her turning into one of those dreadful kids you see on TV talent shows who have been raised to believe that because something is their “dream” they’re entitled to it, regardless of hard work or talent or a thousand other things, and that settling for anything else like an amazing ordinary life is some sort of tragedy.
I guess what I think is that childish dreams are just that. Childish. Yes, I wanted to be a writer when I was six. I also wanted to drive an army jeep (terrible suspension, REALLY uncomfortable) and live in a caravan (where would I plug in the router?).
What I tell Flea is that dreams and goals are great because they help you see what you want, so you can work towards it. I tell her that not every dream comes true, or is even something you want when you get there, but the destination isn’t the most important thing so long as you’re doing something enjoyable and worthwhile on the journey.
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I massively agree – L is convinced she’s a great singer and dancer, whilst Hubs and I agree she’s ok at both but nothing more, so we’ve more or less banned shows like X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent etc in our house to avoid her thinking that’s something she can do! However she is very good at climbing and gymnastics, so if that continues we’ll send her off to classes and see if it’s just a hobby or something more (I’m 99% certain it’ll be a hobby and nothing more). I suppose this is more about not being afraid of what you can do if you put your mind to it – would I have moved to France if my parents hadn’t supported me? Probably not. And how different my life would have been!
Very true about the journey being so important too – I’m a big believer in that too, as often the destination changes depending on what happens on the journey.
As for me, being a childminding blogger (or blogging childminder, depending on how you want to look at it) is not what I dreamt of, but I do feel like I am living the dream – I get to spend time with my kids, I’m my own boss, I’m making money and I’m using my brain when I blog and write, so it’s a win-win for me 🙂