Think back to when you were just a little kid; perhaps you were skating around the ice, shooting the puck at the net and thinking you’d be the next Sidney Crosby. Perhaps you were dressed in black leotards and pink tutus and dreaming of being the next Evelyn Hart. Perhaps you dreamed of becoming a doctor, a pilot, an astronaut, or a firefighter. When was the last time you thought about those childhood dreams? Have they become just a distant memory? Why is it that those dreams that once consumed our thoughts, are so easily shelved as mere childhood fantasies?
I believe that everyone had dreams and aspirations when they were younger, but at some point along the way we decided that those thoughts were no longer worthy of our time. I believe the reason is that we lose our childhood innocence – which is often a called ‘growing up’.
My mother recently came across an article I wrote for the town newspaper when I was 9. (I grew up in a small town, news was hard to come by!) I said that I wanted to become a writer. I don’t even remember having that dream. At some point along the way – perhaps from well-meaning parents and teachers – I decided I wanted to be a lawyer.
There is a push in today’s society to find our callings quite early in life, when the truth is many adults spend a good portion of their lives not knowing what they truly want to do.
Looking back at my high school graduating class, I would say less than 30% of us are actually doing what we thought we would be doing. We didn’t know what we wanted to do and I can honestly say I personally only figured it out in the past 3-4 years or so.
The other concept that seems to paralyze our society is the fact that we are a pretty risk-averse society. Fear sets in when we don’t know what it is we desire. People are much more comfortable with the known than the unknown. It takes a certain amount of courage to admit that you don’t know what you want; it takes even more courage to admit that what you’re doing isn’t working for you. Making that decision to change your life? Lots of people never get there.
We all know people who stay in their jobs, simply going through the motions to earn their paycheque. Why do people stay in unhappy positions? For people with families who depend on them, the choice to change careers or go back to school may not be possible. In a society so used to instant gratification, the delayed benefits of making a change keeps us from moving forward.
I believe that there is something to those dreams we once had. Thinking back to that 9 year old who wanted to be a writer – I did not end up going into journalism or law, but here I am blogging and working towards a diploma in a field where writing will consume most of my time. Perhaps that young girl knew what was right for me better than teenage or adult me.
If we are afraid to dream, afraid to open ourselves up to the unknown, then we might never make progress. To hope is to dream. As a society, we must build upon those lost dreams or reach to new ones. As a society we must build upon the dreams of those who’ve gone before us. Imagine what the world would be like is one man had not stood up to cry “I have a dream”, knowing he’d never see the fruition of his dream? What are your dreams?