From the minute you are able to speak, you are asked what you want to be when you "get older". Do you want to be a princess? An astronaut? Maybe a doctor? Regardless of your answer, you are given the support you need to give a wide grin and continue on with your day--even if you are a little girl who says you want to be President someday.
Until, of course, you become a teenager. Once you hit middle and high school it becomes a choice between professions based on your gender. That little girl who had ambitions of being President someday now has people just looking at her with a raised eyebrow and a scoff. Probably responding with something along the lines of, "Yeah, OK. And I am going to be a millionaire."
Or that look of disbelief when a teenage boy says he wants to be a nurse instead of a doctor, or that he would rather be a stay at home dad who spends his time with his kids someday instead of having some 9 to 5 job that keeps him in the office. Because God forbid that someone do something outside of what society has assigned to them just because of their born gender.
Now, things are slowly getting better when it comes to this. The world is encouraging women to go into scientific fields--also known as STEM. Slowly, but surely, we are encouraging women to embark on academic journeys that would have been laughed at decades ago. However, from what I have seen, there is still a stigma for what men are expected to do.
However, those things are not entirely what this is about. Regardless of any gender stereotype, preconceived notion of a person, or ideal profession, we have gotten to a point in our existence where we do not go after our dreams. There are so many reasons thrown around as to why.
"What do you want to be when you graduate?" Someone, probably a family member, asks you.
"Oh, I dunno," You answer. "I really love writing."
Their response is, typically, a raised eyebrow. "That is nice," They say back.
You know though, do you not? You know what is going through their mind. Something about how writing is not practical--no matter the form. If you want to be a novelist, there is so much competition and there is no way you are every going to get published. Or, if you simply want to be a poet--there is no career in that. Maybe you want to be a journalist, but that is "a dying field".
There are so many criticisms that people throw your way no matter what it is that you want to do. Mostly, though, this occurs to those who want careers in the arts. No matter how many people tried to tear you down though, you always try to build people up.
"What are you planning on doing with a degree in creative writing?" You ask your friend who has been practicing their writing nonstop since they got to school.
"I am going to be a famous novelist one day," Is their answer.
You will look at them, stay quiet for a moment, and then tell them that you will be first in line to buy their best-selling novel when it hits shelves.
No matter how many times people knocked you down, and maybe succeeded at making you rethink your plans, you continue to build people up. You want people to follow their dreams and to reach for the stars even if you cannot bring yourself to do the same.
So, this is for you.
I want you to know that you too can reach for the stars. You can continue to dream big and pursue your passion. Do not let someone tell you that something is not "practical". What does that even mean, really? That you will not make a lot of money? That you will be unhappy because you do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars? Newsflash--barely anyone does anyway. Are they happy?
I have always believed in my own happiness before worrying about what profession is practical. If I wanted to be a doctor, I would be taking classes to be a doctor. If I still wanted to be a musician, I would be going to school for music. Right now, I like to write. I enjoy putting words into an order that can make someone feel something. I like to give people information through writing. So that is what I am doing.
To those who tell people to dream big, but are reaching small, you are so worthy of doing what makes you happy. I do not care how old you are--it is never too late to reach for your dreams.
And so I ask you, are you reaching for yours?