One day while watching my niece and nephew ride around on their bikes on a cool Portland afternoon, my 9-year old niece asked me, “Auntie Jenn, what do you do?”
I answered without hesitation, “I help people figure out what they want to be when they grow up”.
I’d never said it in such a clear and concise way before. I’d never gotten to the point so quickly. But there it was.
And what did the kids say? They thought it was the coolest thing they’d heard all day.
My 9-year old niece and her 4-year old brother went to town telling me ALL about their big dreams. “I want to be a fireman!” my nephew proudly proclaimed. “I want to be an artist!” my niece sang.
And you know what? There was no hesitation. There was no holding back. I brought up going for your big dreams and they responded with excitement and glee as if ALL of that stuff was not only possible, but also that it was DEFINITELY going to happen.
Call me crazy, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a room full of adults who would respond in such a way.
I know, I know, kids probably don’t see the practical, they don’t live in the “real” world, they don’t have bills to pay and people to take care of. It’s true enough.
But one thing kids DO know (at least most of the time)–who they are and what they want.
At some point all that goes away. That ability to just shout out what you want to do without worry about what others think, like kids do. When you get older, people expect a serious and acceptable answer when they ask “what are you going to be when you grow up”.
When does this all go off the rails? Well, at some point it’s expected that you become “practical”. At some point it becomes time to get away from what you want to do and go for what you think you HAVE to do.
You need direction, right?
But what gets lost in all of this, most of the time?
YOU. And the person who you truly are.
There’s NO reason good enough to let this all go in the name of practicality. None whatsoever.
Sure, life does step in. It expects you to pay the bills and keep things up. But it doesn’t have to be at such a steep cost as giving up who you are to do it. Trust me, I’ve been down that road in the form of a professional career that I never really wanted. Struggling and spiritually starving while getting that practical “adulting” thing going on.
Looked reasonable on the outside…..but it was disastrous where it counted.
THAT I couldn’t continue doing anymore. It was time to drop the constructs. Question all of the “have-to” things. And get back to being a KID….in the GOOD way.
Remember the old joke “you’re only young once but you can be immature all your life”? Well….that’s just it. Maybe you ARE only young once….but you can be child-LIKE (and not child-ISH) all your life.
That’s the goal–keep the remembrance of the YOU that you were born with while making it doable in an adult world.
And folks, that CAN be done. In fact, it HAS to be done. That’s when you know you’ve really accomplished something.
You’ve made the “grown up” you the REAL you.