When I was five years old I wanted to be a giraffe. When I was ten I wanted to be an actress. High school brought about slightly more realistic dreams – I wanted to be a physicist or a civil engineer. I’m an English major at Chapman.
There are many of us at Chapman learning the skills we need to pursue the careers we’ve wanted since elementary school, but there are also many of us who are still discovering what we want to spend the rest of our lives doing. I am one of the latter.
Obviously being a giraffe is out of the question, but all those other parts of me that I have set aside or adjusted to practical limitations as I grew older have not disappeared however suppressed they may have become. They remain as imaginings of people that I might have been, or perhaps of a person I am yet to become. Either way although my dreams have changed, as yours may have, sometimes it is important to remind ourselves of the aspirations we had for our own futures before they were clouded by practicalities and expectations.
Practicalities get in the way, there’s no doubt about it. Born without a sensible bone in my body, even I find myself attuning to what is more sensible and realistic. Our ambitions, once defined by how excited we were about something, how happy it made us, have been transformed by fears of how we are to provide for a family we are yet to have or to set up a retirement fund that will not be touched for another fifty years. These reasons for readjusting our dreams and ourselves all come down to the security that money brings.
There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s no way around it. Just as there’s no way around avoiding your parents’ disappointment when you tell them that you don’t want to be the lawyer or doctor that they dreamed you would become. All of these things get in the way of dreams. But make sure that you are not getting in the way of your own.
We try desperately to put everything into neatly wrapped little boxes, to define our success by grades when we’re in college and by money when we start to work. We need to stop. Because, yes, there are unavoidable circumstances that propel our lives in directions we never could have imagined – even in our days of longing to be a tall, spotted animal – but make sure that the course your life is taking is one that does not bury your dreams beneath fear or other people’s expectations.
The only lines that you have to color inside of are the ones you draw for yourself. Don’t let anyone or anything else draw them for you.