Kids seem to have some of the biggest aspirations among any age group. They aspire to be doctors, firefighters and astronauts. Some of their career choices don’t even exist in the “real” world. I can recall a time when I thought being a unicorn for the rest of my life was not only a viable option, but also an incredibly wise one.
As we grow up, the truth of the matter becomes very apparent: we can’t play pretend for the rest of our lives.
Bills must be paid, and real work has to be done to pay them. Last time I was on LinkedIn, I unfortunately didn’t stumble upon any listings seeking unicorns.
While it makes sense why an imaginary career would not work out, I think the reality of this and the seriousness surrounding adulthood can often crush some of our more attainable dreams.
Being an imaginary animal may have been something I wanted as a child, but I can also remember desires much deeper. The desires I had were ones like changing the world and making a difference in people’s lives, desires that could realistically be fulfilled.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to say I’m at a place where I enjoy what I’m studying. I love my classes and look forward to graduating and working as a health professional.
While I enjoy this luxury, there are many other college students and high school graduates I know who have had to change majors several times or don’t enjoy the field they’re in.
Getting to where I am now was a long journey and took an incredible amount of prayer. Even with this aspect of my life feeling together, I still can’t help but notice that I want more, and I think others also feel this way about many aspects of their lives.
I’ve felt my childhood dreams creeping in and asking me why I gave up on some of them.
One reason I think this happens is because I didn’t simply give up on my dreams; I did it in order to attain ones that matter more and that I knew would make me happier. Studying occupational therapy is one example of a decision I made that set my love for music on the back burner, yet fulfilled my desire to help others and make an impact in people’s lives.
Another reason I can’t seem to shake certain aspirations is because I haven’t done anything to nurture and grow the ones that deserve a more important spot in my life and my decision-making. I’ve allowed the childlike spirit in me to be diminished and replaced with overwhelming practicality. This can stop me from taking even the tiniest of steps toward dreams outside of my career and immediate goals.
I think many people have also done these things without even realizing it. They’ve chosen the strictly practical route and haven’t reassessed what truly matters to them.
The solution that I’ve found is to pray about your purpose and take small steps in the direction of the particular desire.
This plan comes from St. Teresa of Calcutta, who said two important things: “My secret is simple. I pray,” and “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Her wise words remind me that it’s acceptable to take time to figure things out. I don’t have to use these ghosts of childhood dreams to feed my anxiety; I can actually use them to find peace and understanding.
Only God knows what is to become of his children, and I’d like to think that all of this is just part of figuring that out.
Nurturing positive growth in these areas doesn’t have to be a career-changing decision; it can be as small as smiling at someone on the street or taking a couple of hours one weekend to just play music and enjoy it.
Taking time to do small things that are fulfilling is important to one’s well-being and can help reignite the flame of childhood that often dies throughout adulthood.