In most countries, the moment someone enters the education system, one of the first mundane questions that are asked is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” As a result, people work toward a certain direction that includes the following:
- The amount of compensation attained
- The level of prestige and recognition
- The prospects of development and promotion
Despite the validity of the question, there one word that is almost always ignored: the “want”. Why? The answer to that is very simple, actually. One cannot expect a child or even a teenager to have any idea of how the world functions and what types of paths are out there. Here is where the immediate social environment comes in. The person is placed before a multiple choice test, becoming “A, B, C or D” (and of course several more). This results in entering a field that he/she may or may not enjoy, but what can actually be done about it? There are too much time and money invested in a certain direction. For many, it translates to “what is done, is done”. The famous last words that lead to a miserable life, filled with regrets and a lot of “what-ifs”.
A lot of people realize what it is they love in life, only after they encounter it, meaning that there is a new perspective that has been unfolded before them. An option they were unaware of prior to that moment. So, what happens after this life-changing moment? This can be broken down into three simple categories in ascending order:
1 – Continuing as is
This is the most unfortunate part. The person affected comes to the “realistic” decision that it is too late for anything new. A common excuse is “I’ve already made my choices, I have my life, my job, my career” and concludes to: “I am happy where I am”. Perhaps it is an illusion or maybe he/she has accepted this as a fact. In short, it is all about convincing one’s self that this is what they want, even though deep inside they wish they’d done things differently. That is the point of an inner battle, blaming past choices and people. Usually the latter, for not being exposed to more options or having the support such an endeavor would require. Rest assured, in the long run, this creates a good amount of bitterness.
An example to illustrate (out of numerous) came when I was building my team for international projects. I approached a very talented guy with whom I was communicating for a while. He was self-taught and was a really great artist, to the point he would build assets and sell them online. I offered to showcase his work and use a partner’s facility to render sequences of animations based on his work that would – no doubt – drop jaws. His response was disarming: “I am happy working here as a cafe employee”. Later on, he gave up on his dream and went on living a routine job. Nowadays, I have no idea where he is and what he is doing. Though I do honestly wish he is indeed happy, whatever he’s doing.
2 – Turning it into a hobby
This is what a respectable majority does. It has many similarities with #1 above, with the difference that they do not wish to nor do they give up on their dream in its entirety. Of course, they have invested time, money and effort to be where they are right now, but nothing is stopping them from using a part of their income to satisfy that yearning, that dream. I admit this is a great option, provided the everyday job, in conjunction with one’s personal life, allows enough time to indulge (I did a pun here). This, good as it sounds, can put a strain on a relationship, which makes it utterly important to have a partner (male or female alike), with whom communication and understanding are at all times high. If some of the interests/hobbies are common, then that is indeed a blessing and I am happily jealous (in the good sense) for these couples. However, do note, that given enough motivation, these people can build the strength and jump to #3, described below.
The most characteristic example I have is a good friend of mine that I consider the next thing to a family. He always loved martial arts and wanted to be a champion athlete. Instead, he was initially working on a low-to-medium level of public administrative fields, something he never really felt good at. Unnerved by the passing of years and growing up, he eventually found himself being a ranking officer in security – following his father’s footsteps – and investing part of his funds to continue his training and keep his skills up to par. However, his social skills suffered as a result and it showed in a relationship he had formed. One that deprived him of all his resources. Thankfully, he is out of a toxic situation and is starting to find his path again. I am proud of him!
3 – Turn their world upside down and chase it
This is the absolute minority, that is separated into two sub-categories:
- The ones who gain support from their immediate environment, such as family and friends – these are the truly blessed ones, and
- The ones who change their entire life to pursue their dream, mostly through a personal realization – these are the self-motivated and usually face hostile conditions from their environment
Once these types of people find their calling, they begin to plan an entire shift of their life in a way that it can revolve around their dream. They may drop out of school, college or university, even plan a departure from a mundane job, while diverting most of their resources to learn the new skills and attain experience toward their new-found direction. It is an extremely demanding effort, based on desire, self-motivation, inspiration, discipline, and consistency. A transition that is never easy, since it means discarding aspects and habits of one’s life before feeling “adequate” and competitive enough to break in the market. They are the first ones to experience failure and loss, and yet be called to stand back up and continue, no matter how many times they fall. They have to muster courage and exert perseverance. Become optimists when all seems bleak. That hones their very identity, and the moment they begin to prove they can get things done, others are inspired to join. This is the birth of a leader.
Examples of this can easily be found online nowadays. Just Google the word “success” and the number of results will astound you. Still, these people are very small in numbers. As much as I would like to place myself among them, I am still walking the path of transformation – mostly due to the fact that I grew up in a hostile environment, that forced me to exist on the #2 of this list for a while, before turning to a full-blown rebel and turn my hobby into a career. Even though I hit several goals, I still have a long way to go for the ultimate one. From personal experience, it is a demanding task and an immensely life-changing decision. Once hitting the all-time lows, there is a valuable lesson, before heading up. Just as the heights can plague a person with arrogance, the lows plague with anger, but also provide humility. Finding the balance between them is what makes the real difference. A pedestal on which integrity can be built.
Arrogance is reduced to determination. Anger is tamed to relentlessness. Both feed courage and give strength. Last but not least, humility is upgraded to communication and understanding. The combination builds a person who will never become a mindless sheep or a full-blown “tyrant”.
Eventually, all lies in the balance.
How about you? Do you have a dream? If yes, how do you handle it?