When I grow up I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up. I want to be a firefighter.
Any of this sound familiar? When I was younger there wasn’t anything in the world I didn’t think I could do. Nothing was too big for me to conquer or too unimportant for me to care about. I could make an adventure out of anything and the world was mine for the taking. When I was five years old, I remember telling my mother that when I was older I was going to discover something so they could name it after me.
Do you know what she did? She smiled at me, gave me a look of pride before speaking and said, “I don’t doubt that you will. You can do anything you put your mind to pumpkin.” I think that at five years old that was one of the happiest moments to me. I was on cloud nine because I knew if my mom said it, then it had to be true. Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last. I can’t say for sure when it goes away, but at some point it leaves you and most people never get it back.
What is it? It is our dreams. Our faith in our ability as people to make our dreams a reality. As children it’s inherently there. We’re invincible. We have all of these ideas and plans on what we want to do with our lives and how we want to do it. But as we get older we learn about the world, the people in it and somehow the dreams fade and turn into just that - dreams. With each passing year I have witnessed children losing this amazing gift earlier and earlier.
It starts off with little things. A small cut, a broken bone, a broken promise, a white lie. It escalates to bigger things. A missed birthday party, a death in the family, getting yelled at, listening to fighting parents, and people leaving. By the time we’re teenagers we’re so beaten and bruised by the world today that if there are any of those childhood dreams left, they are so far buried you’d need a Hydraulic Excavator (One of those large caterpillar construction trucks that digs up the dirt) to dig them up.
I’ve been thinking about what all this means for a while now: why a five-year old child has more faith in his or her ability to succeed then I did. Some might call children ignorant. They’re too young to understand, but I’m not so sure about that. Kids pick up on a lot of things that we don’t give them credit for. They are a lot smarter and a lot more observant then we think. I decided not long ago that I was going to take it back.
I was going to find those dreams again and that faith that I can do anything I put my mind to and apply that to my everyday life. At the beginning of this school year my mother asked me why I was back at college and I said, “Because I’m going to retake all the classes I did poorly in and I’m going to get 'A's in everything.” I remember her giving me an odd expression. “Why?” I smiled at her and said, “Because when I grow up I want to own my own business and change the world.”
“I’m going to graduate with a 4.0 and then I’m going to apply to Columbia. When I get in I’m going to get my master’s degree and then who knows. I can do anything” I couldn’t stop smiling as I nodded my head in affirmation of what I had just said. She was still standing there with an odd look on her face. When she finally snapped out of it she shook her head and finished cleaning off the kitchen island. She said, “Come on Corina, be realistic. You’re not going to Columbia. Rutgers is a good school. You should apply there.”
I watched her walk away and my mood plummeted. I remember asking myself where that feeling was. The one I felt when I was five and thought that everything my mother said would happen because, well she said it. It wasn’t there. When I felt myself losing that enthusiasm I stopped. This wasn’t about my mother or anyone else. It was about me and what I believed. I’m not five years-old anymore, but I still have dreams, hopes, and aspirations. I will follow them until I make them a reality. We all have them. I know you do. Deep down every person on this planet has dreams. So what’s stopping you from opening up your mind and following them?
Granted you know more about the world now, and things aren’t always fair, but is that any reason to give up? Throw in the towel? No, it just gives us more experience and a better likelihood of succeeding. Children aren’t the only ones who can dream, but they are the only ones that attempt to follow those dreams. Will it be hard? Yes. Will things always go your way? No. will you stumble and fall? Probably, but if you don’t try you’ll never know.
I know that no matter the obstacles or surprises I have heading my way I’ll succeed because I can do anything I put my mind to. If you have kids or you have a chance to observe them, look at them, really look and you’ll see it there. You’ll see the sparkle the shines bright in their eyes. Not only do we need to fight to get that sparkle back, but we need to fight to keep it in them because they deserve to be kids for as long as they can, to follow their dreams, just like we do.
“Name a wish; place it in your heart. Anything you want, everything you want. Do you have it? Good. Now believe it can come true. You never know where the next miracle can come from, the next smile, the next wish come true,” wrote Mark Schwahn, “But if you believe that its right around the corner and you open your mind to the possibility of it, the serenity of it, you just may get the thing you’re wishing for. The world is full of magic; you just have to believe it. So make your wish. Do you have it? Good. Now believe in it with all your heart.”