Thursday, 3 April 2014

In which dreams shift and that's ok

I don't remember wanting to be a princess when I was small. I'm sure I did: it was the 80s and people weren't so concerned with gender-free parenting, so there must have been at least some pink frills.

The dreams I do clearly remember from when I was a child were being a vet (eschewed pretty soon after I realised there would be quite a lot of blood involved) and being a champion show jumper (that one got nixed when I finally realised that I wasn't particularly keen on enormous fences, which would have been problematic. My dislike was borne out recently hunting when I was one of only two members of the field to - much to Delila's fury - decline the opportunity to jump a five bar gate in favour of a rather less airborne canter the long way around the woods). Others I'm almost certainly sure involved having a pony, being a writer, and getting to eat alphabet potato letters for supper on a semi-regular basis.

Recently I saw someone on Twitter remark that she had had a discussion with a friend about whether it's ok to give up on your childhood dreams.

Initially there's something sad about the thought that someone has given up on their childhood dreams - that they've been quashed and moulded by the shackles of reality into losing the freedom of their imagination and their whimsy.

But thinking about it, I'm not sure that it's the specificity of childhood bit of that sentence that's actually the important bit. Because I don't see it like that.

Yes, I might have given up on childhood dreams of eating potato based snacks for every meal - but that's because I like having a working digestive system.

All that's happened is that my dreams have evolved as I've grown up. Now and instead, they involve horseback safaris in Botswana; sustaining a happy marriage as long as that of my grandparents'; and having a job that's a close approximation of CJ Cregg's (the first two aren't too close to happening, but I'm working on the third).

Hold on to the freedom inherent in your imagination, absolutely. But don't kid yourself that just because you're not now who you wanted to be as a kid, you've somehow failed. You've not: you've just changed. And if there is something that you're still hanging onto from childhood, you're in a better position now than you ever were to make it happen.

Father Christmas might never have managed to get a pony down the chimney when I was small. It doesn't mean I'll never get one onto the livery yard in the future.


Alicia Foodycat said...

I find that people who never reassess their dreams are the ones who end up with the enormous unflattering meringue wedding dress because it's the exact dress they wanted when they were 10. Shoving yourself into a dress, or a dream, which no longer fits who you are is a bad idea!

em said...

I don't think you have to see getting older as growing up. My dad, a 66 year old retiree, still talks to me about what he wants to be he grows up. He's not sure right now, but I think there is a trip to the Galapagos Isles on the cards to see if he can make it out there as a conservationist!

I wanted to be a marine biologist, but abandoned that at 14 when I realised that although I loved the sea, science as a whole was not a subject I liked or understood!

Redbookish said...

What an interesting, thought-provoking post. I read it when you posted it and have been thinking about it ever since. I'm doing what I've wanted to do since I was about 14. But I am a very different person now. So very different. It's interesting to look back and recognise the incremental changes. Living life is quite interesting and fun sometimes!

Kat said...

Lovely. I'm entirely with Redbookish on doing what I've longed to do, but there are so many things that have changed along the way. I had a lovely chat with a friend last week about this: we came to the conclusion that achieving happiness is as spectacular as an ambition as anything else, and should be celebrated just as much.

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