When I grow up…

Remember in kindergarten, when the teacher would ask all the kids to draw a picture of what they want to be when they grow up? The boys maybe wanted to be a firefighter, and the girls maybe wanted to be ballerinas, I’m pretty sure mine was to be a badly drawn picture of a giraffe. When we’re kids, anything was possible, we dream big, but as we get older, those dreams become a little more realistic and are shaped by what will pay the bills. There’s a lot of pressure put on young adults in modern day, we’re supposed to have everything figured out. That pressure, from parents, teachers, media and general society, is real and palpable for someone who doesn’t quite know what path to take. It can be consuming, it can make you feel inadequate, it can make you feel like there’s something seriously abnormal about you because you don’t really know what you want to be when you grow up.

I’ve struggled in the past to see into my future, I’ve chopped and changed my direction a number of times throughout the past 10 years. I’ve worked hard my whole life to earn money doing multiple jobs all the while studying to set up my future. So here I am now, living that dream, I’ve graduated, I’ve moved to the Sunny State, and I am doing my one job that I have worked for the past 10 years to get. Am I happy? Yes, definitely. But am I satisfied? I don’t know. I still feel restless, and incomplete, so maybe there’s something wrong with me? Should I just be happy that I have a job I have worked hard for and a comfortable life? Maybe it’s selfish, but I still feel like I have so much more to learn about the world and myself. So will anything ever be enough?

I met an older woman the other day, and we got talking about her life. The life she had lived was so interesting, and so unusual for a woman of her generation. I was fascinated by her positive approach on life, and in a way, I felt that we had very similar souls. I asked her how she felt about how she had lived and if she was happy, she said to me that people were always asking her what she wanted to do in life, but no one ever asked her how she wanted to live. She said she wanted to live a happy life, and everything she has done has been for happiness. This got me thinking about those kindergarten kids and the pressure that starts from that young age by asking them what they want to be when you grow up. What if we took the pressure off, and instead of focusing on the career, husband, or house we want, we focused on how we want to live our lives.

I know sometimes I feel lost, and I’m sure others do to. I also know I’m still looking for something; I just haven’t found it yet. I’ve always thought the journey is more important than the destination, learning from the challenges and enjoying the ride along the way is what makes us grow as people. So maybe this is my new starting point, and a life after university is my new journey, but where it will take me is unknown, more unknown than ever. There’s a lesson to be learnt here, the path you choose in life should be the one that makes you happiest, not the one forced upon you by the pressures of society. Dreamers are what our society lacks, so dream big, and live however you want to live free from judgement. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even be that badly drawn giraffe, I’m pretty tall already, so anything is possible.

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