“You can be whatever you want in life!!!!!” Yay! Go you! Wait…not really. In fact, no, no, no. You can’t.
Thanks to ALLLLLL the well meaning grown ups in my life who spoon fed me this garbage. I so appreciated being set up for failure early on. “You can be anything you want to be, deary.” Well, I stank at math, so there went my dreams of being an astronaut. I was the most uncoordinated child on the planet. Flush wanting to be a cowgirl or any other dream career involving arms and legs. I was a little girl who knew something was wrong with her. I mean, how great could I be, if I couldn’t even grow up to be WHATEVER I wanted to? Of course this led to a downward spiral that caused me to drug and drink my way through high school. I kid. Well, sorta.
Why do we tell our precious children these damaging cliches? Why not tell them they actually have super powers and can fly? That’s about how ridiculous and cruel it is to tell them they can do anything. The resources are there for any career choice, yes. But what if the drive of achievement is cut off at the intersection of natural ability? In that moment a sparkle in the child’s eyes goes dark. Sparkle death should never happen. Ever.
A better approach would be to observe a child in play. Good old natural, organic play. Delight with them in the building of a Lego Death Star. Remark on the excellent use of green and yellow in a fingerpainted “Starry Night”. Let a child blossom into what they NEED to be. Encourage them in areas where they clearly excel. I’m not talking about being some kind of math crazed stage mom either. If little Susie is on FIRE for math, don’t have printouts of the currents trends of careers rooted in mathematics. And for crying out loud don’t roll your eyes in disappointment if Susie chooses to use her math fire to be a carpenter, not a civil engineer.
What’s with this super cerebral career path competition we set ourselves on?? Please, don’t pass that nonsense onto your kids. We have an entire generation of 20 and 30 somethings who have spun their wheels trying to figure out why they aren’t Steve Jobs. Don’t believe me? Turn on the television. You’ll see them in any Occupy venue across the nation.