This post may contain affiliate links. See our affiliate disclaimer here.
When I was younger, I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I want to be a singer.
Goodness, when Hannah Montana came out, I brewed with envy because I could’ve been her! Had my dad also been a one hit wonder in the 90s I could’ve been her, that is.
I wanted to pirouette around stage wearing a microphone that was taped to my face and maybe crowd surf a little bit because my adoring fans would really get a kick out of that. I wanted all of the fame, glory, and one of those mirrors with the big, round light bulbs at the top that only famous people used.
Singing would open doors for me to also dance and model and star in movies where I’d fall in love with my co-star and do all those other things famous people get to do just because they’re famous. I would probably be the shortest model in history, which would get all sorts of other good publicity because I’d be advocating for women’s body types.
I wanted to do anything that made me feel beautiful and admired and valuable.
That’s what mattered to me. I didn’t want to be a fire fighter or a businessman or a lawyer. I wanted to be seen and cherished.
As I got older, my dream shifted. I wanted to be a chiropractor to help people. I wanted to be a writer because I actually liked it. I wanted to be a Latin professor because of how cool would it be to speak a dead language?! (Not very cool, apparently).
I recently asked an eight-year-old if she wanted to be an artist because she loves art and loves painting.
“I would want to be an artist and sell all my paintings, but I sometimes think I want to be a doctor instead.”
“Why a doctor?”
“Because I would make a lot of money and have a big house.”
She continued to talk about how hard it would be to sell her paintings and how she wanted to live in a bigger house—bigger than her house in northwest Austin, an area known for its lavish suburban homes.
Her answer shocked me. I assumed at eight she’d be gushing about her love of painting and remain untainted by the harsh realities of the world.
My heart tore. I want this girl to become an artist. She was only eight and already letting go of her dream because it was unrealistic.
When did we start teaching children that their dreams are impossible? When did we start believing this lie ourselves?
A friend told me recently that his dad planned to move to Los Angeles to be an actor. He’s in his fifties and we all ooh-ed at the risk. My friend said it was a great idea because most people come to Hollywood when they are young. Hollywood is overrun with young actors and actresses. But you don’t see many grown adults trying to break into show business.
His words stuck with me. I think it’s somehow ingrained in us that our goals need to be accomplished by the time we’re 25 to be successful. But that’s not true.
Part of me still wants to be a singer, but not for the same old reasons. I mean, I plan on one day applying my make up with one of those big mirrors with the round light bulbs at the top, like Taylor Swift probably uses, but I let go of the other reasons. Fame, fortune, endless adoring fans chanting my name and never misspelling it on any of their posters. Those things don’t interest me anymore.
I still want to be a singer because I still love it. I’ve dreamed of it since the first time my dad cranked up the Monday Night Football song on the stereo and we danced around the living room shout-singing the words. You can’t let go of a dream like that, even if it seems impossible.
I have this crazy idea burning inside of me that I can’t let go.
It’s me, and it’s you. It’s doing what we love because we love it. Because we wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t do it. It’s singing in a church worship band, not in front of a 25,000 people, but just because I love singing. It’s painting all weekend and selling your work in a local coffee shop, because you just love painting.
It’s doing what we love because we love it, regardless of how “realistic” or “likely” it is.