Most of us grow up being asked the age-old question “What do you want to be when you are older?”. From four or five years old we are asking children to choose the way in which they will spend their forever, and they only get one of those. We are projecting onto them our opinions; you want to be a garbage man? Don’t be daft, you’d be much better as a Police Man.
And asking them to plan how they will spend the next 40 or 50 years of their lives. When I was four I wanted to be a police lady, when I was ten, a teacher, by the time I was 14 I was choosing classes at school that would ultimately narrow my options.
At 27, I have absolutely no idea what I want to do forever. But you know what, that’s OK.
I am learning that it is our system that is broken and not me. That those questions are stupid, and that making students narrow their courses at 14 and 16 to ultimately narrow their options further ahead, is actually the dumbest thing ever. Of course, we can’t just keep studying everything, but we should understand that people will change. Many of my adult friends have returned to university to study in a whole new disciple because, surprise surprise, at 17 they didn’t ‘get lucky’ and choose something that they wanted to do forever.
In the past maybe it was different, maybe my Dad did work for the same company for 30 plus years. Maybe he was successful, maybe he had everything he needed, but one thing I know is that he didn’t enjoy it.
So why are we so concerned with people choosing a life and staying in it?
We focus on career selection pre-university. Once we graduate, we focus on career and growth. Once you have a job, you continue to move up, promotions and raises define your success. Walking out of it is a ‘shock’ choice, and something that defines you as bold, courageous and maybe a little frivolous. And maybe it is, but not in a negative way.
Finding our dreams is the ‘romanticised reality’, the true reality, as we paint it, is the above, a grey model of adult life. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s OK to have more than one dream. It’s OK to walk more than one path. Leaving something behind because it isn’t absolutely the thing you want most isn’t a crime, it’s a choice. As much as there are plenty more fish in the sea there are plenty of opportunities to be ceased. The romanticised version can be your reality if you so wish.
So live for today and forget what you were told.
You can be anything you want to be, and you can be as many things as you want to be!