This is me with my mum, in one of the good old fashioned photo-booths, aged about 18 months old I think?
Like many people my age (ahem), I don’t have a great many photos of me as a small child. When I look back on the photographs that my parents do have, I feel like I see something different every time I look at them. As I get older it’s interesting to look at my younger self, through the ages, wondering what I would have been like to other people? How I would have appeared and behaved? Was I considered a good child or maybe I was naughty (sorry for hiding from you for 2 hours Grandma!).
What I do know is that being young comes with a great many expectations, when you are young, the expectations come mostly from others in the form of milestones. Is she walking yet? Is she talking yet? How many words can she use? To being asked the infamous ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’.
We are asked to think about this very soon in our lives. What is it that we wish to do for the REST OF OUR LIFE? Then we are tested on it. Exams, tests, right from get-go. We have become obsessed with testing if someone is good enough to do what it is they say they want to do. All of this being measured by standard academic measures!
I can tell you that around 16 months later, at the ripe old age of 3, I went around telling people that I wanted to be a doctor. I’m thinking that a three year old probably didn’t really know this. Nonetheless I do remember wielding around a very large medical book ( yes…I know!), and would explain ‘procedures’ to any adult that would listen (maybe I was always destined to teach at some stage??).
The point is, is this I can’t decipher whose dream that really was? I am still and still remain interested in the subject of medicine, but really not enough to want to train as one. It’s been a long journey for me to really get to grips with that. Likewise it’s taken me much of my life to realise that I don’t have to do ONE THING. I can in fact do many things that make me happy. Such is the richness of life.
If I could go back in time and speak to the little girl in the photograph, I wouldn’t ask her ‘what do you want to be?’ and then steer her towards that, thinking that I was helping her by steering her towards a ‘good job’. I would let her explore what makes her happy. I may ask her what interests her or excites her? I might ask her if there were different jobs that she would like to try? I would tell her then that she didn’t have to just ONE THING.
Knowing that earlier really would have been a revelation to me. I’m passing this on to my nephew and nieces now…..aspire to do whatever it is that makes you happy, that way you won’t go wrong.