I was talking with a lawyer who’s a dear friend of mine about our childhood and how she dreamed of being something that she currently wasn’t. We talked through her real dream, and she finally admitted that she wanted to be a dancer, and she thought of pursuing dance professionally. I encouraged her to follow that dream, with the hope that she really would to find her passion purpose back in her life.
I remember when I was a child, I wanted to be an actress. I remember fantasizing about what it would be like to be on set of a movie or a television show working with other actors and being praised for being good at it. I also wanted to get out of my own shadow. I was incredibly shy and because of that, creating another persona who was charismatic and said all the right lines appealed to me. As I became a teenager heading off to college, my parents pushed for me to find a profession where I could “get a job” right out of college, so I compromised my dream by focusing on working behind the scenes in entertainment. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, or how I would do it, but that became the dream that I strived for.
As I was talking to my friend, a lawyer who passed the bar in several states, about her dream career when she was little, she followed a similar thread that I have heard a lot lately. Her dream of becoming a dancer was quickly quashed by her parents desire for something more “practical”. The toll for parents paying for college was to find a job post college, not necessarily to pursue a “passion”. As a parent, I get the reasoning behind it, but I wonder what would happen if our parents had encouraged us to follow our real dreams?
I remember my parents always telling me, “You can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be, the world is yours” But when I actually decided to take my parents up on that offer, the tune was quite different. I remember quite a few questionable looks and hesitant conversations around me going to college to study acting to be a professional actress. Being the shy person that I was, I quickly conceded to my parents wishes to find something more practical and headed straight for the school of communications. I figured if I wasn’t going to be an actress, I would at least try to be in a profession that would be close.
She and I had similar experiences. In fact, this conversation isn’t a new one among a lot of peers. The story of many has a similar thread. The crazy/wild/outlandish dream gets modified by parents who want their sons and daughters to get a practical “job”. Said dream becomes a footnote in our lives until a life altering event happens where it doesn’t matter anymore and we give up our day jobs to pursue our real passions. So right now she wants to pursue dancing, and I think that is the best decision that she has made. Why? Because once you let go of the fear of saying what you really want to do out loud to people, you become free to actually pursue it sans fear of what anyone else thinks. I wish more people would do this. It would save a lot of people from becoming unhappy and unfulfilled doctors, lawyers and executives.
So to my daughter and son who might want to be a space explorer or Alvin Ailey dancer, Dream big, kid. The world is yours for the taking.