If I asked you today what you would be doing for a living if money wasn’t an issue, what would you say? Be as outlandish as you want, what is your most precious dream for your life?
Do you want to be an actress, win Australian Idol, open a school in Africa, be a nurse in Cambodia, start a party planning business, write a novel…? How many nights have you spent laying in bed playing out that dream in your mind, only to wake in the morning to the usual voice in your head telling you it’s too hard, you’re silly to even think it? You have bills to pay, kids to feed, no experience, friends and family who don’t believe in you…
You’re crazy! You’re stupid! You’re DREAMING!
When you were a kid, did you imagine yourself living the life you have today? When did being a vet or a Doctor, a musician or an astronaut become a stupid, crazy idea?
When did we decide to put our dreams on Ritalin?
At work last year we were asked to support a local charity by filling in questionnaires for young people in their program. It asked questions like, what did you want to be when you grew up and what is your advice to young people today? It made me think about the dreams I had when I was in high school and I wondered, if I met my sixteen year old self, would she be proud of how I turned out and what I’d achieved, or would she be disappointed in me for not chasing her dreams? Did I sell out and give up on her?
I know she’d be disappointed that I’ve taken out the eyebrow ring and I would choose brand name clothing over “vintage”, that I’ve pretty much forgotten how to play guitar (we really only ever knew how to play about 3 songs anyway!) and I’m not acting or singing for a living. She’d be “totes devo” that I work in an office and wear a suit every day, that I drive a city SUV and that the majority of the songs on my iPod are in the pop charts, no Triple J’s hottest 100 in sight (seriously teen self, WAIT until you get an iPod, they are so much better than the walkman, seriously, THOUSANDS of songs and it fits in your pocket!!).
I know there are some things she’d be pretty impressed by, I moved to the city, travelled the world, I can buy most things I want and I met & married an amazing man. Yes teen self, he’s an accountant but dating geeks is cool now! Oh and the biggest trip out of all, you have a BABY! A gorgeous baby son, and don’t worry, it will be really hard at first but you’re good at it and you will grow in to it. I promise!
Teen self wanted to be famous, either acting or singing, or both! It’s all she ever thought about. Many a night was spent in front of the mirror, music blasting, lip syncing to No Doubt or practising her Grammy and Oscar acceptance speeches. Maybe she’ll take some comfort in the fact that sometimes, I still do!
I hope she’d be proud of me and forgive me for taking a different path than what she had imagined for herself. I know she’d be happy that in the last few weeks I’ve started to honour her dreams and aspirations again and I’m loving it. I’ve even rediscovered the joys of thrift shopping!
To that young girl still singing in front of the mirror waiting for her life to unfold, I’m so happy I found my way back, I missed you.
What would your teen self think about the person you grew up to be? Did you dumb down your dreams or are you still chasing?