When a child has a dream of who they want to be when they grow up please encourage them. Obviously, some dreams may be fanciful and unrealistic like a dragon rider or to become a pixie, but other dreams are possible or even likely to come true if encouragement and proper effort is applied.
Since I was a little girl I have wanted to be a writer. To me, words are magical, to have the ability to dip into an endless imagination and create stories or other worlds by putting a series of verbiage together, it is miraculous. Someone I met in Toastmasters calls herself a “Word Gnome” and I think this is a great descriptor for anyone who appreciates learning a new word to add to their vocabulary. Some may say because I blog I am a writer, or a wannabe writer at best, but when I graduated high school I went into university with a plan to major in English and be writing for a living.
My original plans were to go to into a Public Relations program at a University which took only a limited amount of students, and besides the subject English I was not what you would call scholastically inclined back in my high school days. I applied with a mandatory essay as to why I wanted into the program, and I was declined due to stronger applicants. I wanted to start my career as a Copy Writer, I remember this clearly. I wasn’t sure about journalism as I had assumed you had to do both written and spoken, and I only wanted to write. There was no Google when I graduated high school to research my options.
I was accepted into a University at age 18 and I had my major decided, English. I would study literature and work on my writing. I was ready to blow away my English Professor with my creative mind and way with words in this one class which had a focus on writing. The Professor was British and as dowdy as they came with dirty toe nails to match her dusty well worn brown Birkenstocks; she had long poker straight grey hair and jowls which flapped when she spoke. I waited excitedly for my first paper to read her accolades which would be accompanied by my usual A grade.
You can imagine how gutted I was when I received my first paper back with a C minus with less than kind red markings all throughout. I was devastated; I questioned the Professor regarding the poor grade and she was curt and indignant with my protesting. She described my writing as less than average, and I decided then I would no longer be majoring in English.
Stop right here…
If I could pause this moment now or turn back time I would have listened to the Professor’s feedback and forged on, but this is the grown up version of me who knows better now. Feedback, both positive and negative are vital for growth. I made a mistake in giving up on myself and how I wish my parents would have encouraged me to stick to my dreams. I could be quite resolute in decisions I made back in my teens and early adulthood and reactive, I don’t recall discussing the change of heart with my parents or anyone. In my last year of University I wrote for the school paper under a pseudonym doing music reviews (music also being a passion of mine). Writing was always a part of who I was.
You want to know what I did major in? Political Science, and only because it was the course I did the best in and the only reason why I did as well as I did, was because of my essays. In fact I had one Professor ask me if I was writing my own essays as the exams and quizzes I was barely passing, but my papers enraptured him. So much so, a decade ago, I ran into the Professor and he remembers me as the one who wrote spectacular papers but bombed on his exams. He asked me again, if I had written the papers by myself, and truth be told I took little from my research and wrote about political topics I had followed over the years from the news. Every exam I wrote back in University I would be delighted when I saw an essay sections while others groaned hoping for all multiple choice questions.
Majoring in Political Science only got you so far, and a subsequent degree or program was necessary to find gainful employment. I went back to school not thinking much about being a writer but still believing and accepting my abilities to write were mediocre at best.
I have a wonderful challenging career in Recruitment, Human Resources, and when the opportunity to write or edit comes up I jump on it, but I wish I had followed my dreams. I wish I hadn’t given up on myself so easily; I wish I had spoken to a counselor or had a mentor at the time. I am grateful for what I have, absolutely, but I wish I had done things differently.
As adults we worry about finances and finding steady employment which pays well. To follow a creative dream, you are taking a chance or risk, most authors do not become wildly successful. Many writers do not become published. Many writers hold other positions in life which provide financial security.
If you have children or if you’re an aunt or uncle please find out what your kids want to do in life. Encourage them to follow their dreams, let them try even if the likelihood of success looks bleak, encourage them to give it their best shot. Check in with them when they begin college, ask questions, if they had a certain idea in mind when starting and go in another direction ask them why, ask them if they are certain, and remind them they can be anything they want to be. Remind them when they are an adult and working, it is challenging to switch gears and switch careers.
When a child has a dream encourage them to pursue it and to not give up. Be their greatest champion and cheerleader as they will come up against obstacles and nay sayers and when you’re young and impressionable you need guidance and support.
Peace and love – Rachel