The unanswerable question

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

From a young age we get asked this question from parents, friends, relatives. The answers start somewhere around “a princess”, “a firefighter”, “a dragon”, “a fairy”, “a superstar”. With our imaginations running wild and a spark of creativity forever in our eyes, as young children we fear not to dream or to live in our dreams. At that age our life seems so clear, like everything is achievable. We are invincible.

Yet somewhere between wanting to be a Disney character to saying “I don’t know”, we grow up. We perhaps learn life is not as simple as we once thought, and we learn to face life’s realities. We begin fearing what the future holds and the uncertainties the next day, week, years will bring. We forget to dream but to learn to simply conquer life day by day.

For some, along their journey they find their passion and the courage to pursue it, for others the uncertainties remain. “Do what you love,” they say – yet questioning yourself this gives you no answers. Your mind is so blank and there is no clear road to the happiness and success you desire. You have dreams and aspirations but just no idea how to get there – or perhaps you are just scared in taking the first step into the fog.

Soon you come to that prime age where people all around you seem to have things figured out. Their career and future all set in their mind. And yet you seem stuck in this room filled with uncertainties and fear. Fear of failing, fear of underachieving, fear of getting stuck with a life that you do not love. So much fear that you forget to take your chances, you forget the inner child in you that had no fear. You forget that you once tried to stand on your own two feet and fell hundreds of times before finally walking.

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My life, like many others, went something like this.

I got out of high school with a vague idea of my interests, my likes and dislikes. I was ambitious, I had a vision of where I wanted to be 10 years from now. I knew the lifestyle I wanted to live, just no idea how to get there. From one university to another, and one degree to the next I wandered looking for the place I fit in, physically and mentally. I was not doing well in courses, had low self-confidence, felt like a failure with little achievements to show for myself.

I was just getting by in life. I was not successful and I was definitely not happy.

Two years later, after changing 2 universities and 4 degrees I can finally say that I am happy with the choices I have made for myself. It was not easy. It was not simple. It was filled with numerous personal hurdles along the way and many sacrifices. ‘Success and happiness never comes easy’ they say – but I never imagined just turning the car key to be so difficult. There’s a long way to go, but a start is an achievement nonetheless.

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We all crave success, happiness and a level of satisfaction with our life. But it is important to know all our life journeys are different. We are inherently different people with different interests and goals for the future. For some the car was easy to get going, but for others that is the most difficult part.

Finding the answer to that question can sometimes be difficult and it is okay to not know. It is okay to be uncertain about where you want to be in life. It is your life to build – build it with love, give it the time it needs to flourish. Give yourself the time you need to understand yourself better.

You will undoubtedly hit lows where you give up, feel like a failure, unworthy and unsuccessful. But it is important to remember that it is only temporary. With hard work and courage to delve into the unknown, the courage to take risks – everything is achievable. No goal is too small.

Remember the child in you still exists – let that shine a little. Dream a little more, be more fearless, be more relentless.

Don’t stop believing in your dreams and don’t let them stop you from believing in yourself.