Dreaming who we are

When we are young, we dream about our future in termes of absolutes. We want to be princesses or space cowboys, imagining our life in certain colors, focusing only on things (or thing) we are excited about. No child I know of dreams about “his or her life in ten to twenty years in terms of job, salary, relationships, possessions, schedules, hobbies, etc. Children dream of being someone they identify with – a book or cartoon hero, a famous ancestor, a mysterious family member. They never dream of two things at once – the life dream is a whole, as well as they never dream of means for getting where they want to be.

Those who seriously never give up dreaming become so passionate about it they do whatever it takes to accomplish their dreams. Most importantly, they never stop to question neither their method nor their own abilities. They are not given any chance to do so, in fact: professional sportsmen and ballerinas rarely interrupt their training to think about where they are going. They go, and fast. And boy, do they fly high!

Deng Linlin in 2012
Deng Linlin in 2012

Those who dream as children but who are told as young adults they’d better keep their dreams as hobbies on the side whilst learning a specialty both fulfilling and financially promising often end up without any sense of purpose in life. Those people try out things they like, but never go over the edge, always believing that being passionate about one thing only is restrictive. And without further questioning whether choosing something you are passionate about is really that restrictive, without doubting that you are bound for life to the choice you make at some point (after high-school, or after college), you end up without any dream at all, just because you were too scared to give into your hobby and make a life out of it.

I for one did not pursue my childhood dreams: I dreamt of becoming a doctor, then an actress. My medical dream didn’t last long, but the other thing stuck, without me being able to become passionate about it. It has since become a “dead dream”, which is the worst of all kinds. I didn’t choose my specialization for lack of a better option: I love what I do, especially the teaching part. But at the end of high school I didn’t as much made a choice as followed an advised path. And it’s not like I have any regrets about this. Still, I wonder how to be sure the path I’m following will lead to my full potential. I know that not pursuing one childhood dream opened me to a world of possibilities. But you cannot fulfill your purpose without choosing one path and rejecting another.

So the question is: does growing to our full potential means choosing the right path or living to the fullest the path we have chosen, whatever it is? Does our happiness lie in the “right choice” or in the way we make decisions about choices we’ve already made?

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