I cannot count the amount of times in my life when I have heard the questions, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “What are you going to do when you graduate from high school?” As a man in my late twenties I look back and I find these cute questions to be very limiting. They created an anxious expectation that there are decisions I must have figured out early on in life if I am going to be anyone of great significance. Then there is the factor that if one does know the answers to these looming questions early on in life, another set of anxious thoughts would mount up at the idea of not knowing where to even start the process. I can remember being in my early teens and setting internal goals that were completely unrealistic or just plain ridiculous. I find these inner covenants still tugging at the door of my heart. I thought I would share a few for an example: I need to be a millionaire by twenty-two, I need to be married by my mid-twenties, I must never go into debt… I formulated most of these dreams when I was a young teen. Do not misunderstand me, having dreams and aspirations can be a pivotal point for many people, but this does not mean every single internal vision we have for our lives is going to happen or even should. I found myself believing that any dream I had formulated and liked, I must do everything in my power to fulfil. Once the years started to pass and I realized this expectation was unrealistic, I discovered that I should most likely burn these old dreams to make room for new ones to be created in my more cognitive and realistic era of life.
I was recently discussing childhood expectations with some close friends and I brought up how when I was around six years old I vividly remember that I wanted to be a butler when I grew up. A totally attainable profession I might add, however, at my young age I did not calculate into the equation having a family, if my personality type would be perfect for that position, if it came with good benefits, and the list of things not taken into consideration goes on and on. As the conversation continued and I started mulling over this subject of my childish dream I began to wonder if there should be some sort of cultural ritual where you set aside the youthful endeavors and start down the path of adulthood. When I honestly started to dig into this subject I realized I had created expectations for almost my entire world where every area of my life that I knew existed as a young adolescent was planned out flawlessly, or so I thought. I am now having to go back systematically to disarm these emotional mines that when not met with a certain quota create havoc internally. There is no logical reason why I should hold myself to an eight-year old’s expectations. Is there?
It makes me think of entrepreneurs who at such a young age were dreaming of going big and succeeded and why I didn’t hear about the thousands of aspiring visionaries whose hopes and dreams were crushed as they began working jobs they hate with bank accounts they render nearly empty.
The process of reconstructing what I want my future to hold has taken many forms and it has not been a short trek. I have read books, gone on soul-searching weekends, moved around the country, and worked a decent job that I wanted nothing to do with. I have finally started to feel comfortable with moving away from those old childish expectations. I find it freeing and revolutionary to break free from the mold I unintentionally placed myself in. It is as though my childhood dreams are the fuel my current aspirations are sacrificing to gain momentum in direction of my currently desired life.
Do you have childish dreams that you need to burn? I would love to hear about your process! If you get a chance, comment and share your thoughts.