dreaming big

This past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit with a group of about 20 elementary-aged Girl Scouts at their program center in Bettendorf.  During our conversation, I asked the girls whether they knew what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Almost every girl immediately raised her hand.  So I asked the girls to share with me what they were currently dreaming of.

“A dancer”

“A fashion designer”

“An athlete”

“A veterinarian”

“A cake designer”

“A gymnast”

“An animal shelter worker”

“A fashion designer AND a doctor”

How many of us had dreams like this when we were young?  I would be willing to bet that each of us can remember a time when we wanted to be one or more of these.  Our girls (and boys) all dream of being something special, of making our mark, of changing the world in a positive way.

I remember having those dreams.  In kindergarten, I wanted to be a nurse.  I recall thinking that was the only career I could think of for a woman.  Later, I learned that there were more options open to me.  I think that at one point, I was going to be a marine biologist.  Later I dreamed of being an astronaut.  And then I hit middle school and promptly forgot all about what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I thought about this a lot in the hours after I spoke with the girls.  On one hand, there was a part of me that wished there were more girls aspiring to be engineers and scientists in that group (and when did “marine biologist” drop off the “most desired careers?”).  And before someone jumps in, please know I was happy to see a few doctors and a veterinarian on the list.  Another side of me said I should just be happy that each of these girls has a dream.  Because, of course, it will change in the future, as dreams tend to do, as mine did.  But what is important is that our children each have a vision of that person that they want to be in the future.

As I thought about it some more, I recalled some recent thoughts that I have been having.  I’ve been taking a good hard look at where I am as a wife, mother, and engineer, and thinking about what I want to be “when I grow up” – because, at 35, I do NOT feel like a grown-up yet.  (Shhh…don’t tell!)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and I also have used Tara Mohr’s “10 Rules for Brilliant Women” to work through some thoughts that I have been having about my career and my future.  In these lessons, one of the things that really struck me was a single statement.

Whatever your dreams may be, imagine what would happen if you allowed yourself to dream them?  It’s a pretty powerful thought.

You know that little voice in your head that usually tells you all the reasons that you can’t or shouldn’t do something, all the reasons that you’re not ready, or whatever your inner voice says.  We all have one.  Mine usually reacts with fear – questioning if I am capable enough to handle whatever it is I am considering.

What if, instead of reacting with fear and restraint, that inner voice responded with love, and care, and support?  What if your inner voice talked to you the same way that you would talk to your best friend if she was considering the same thing?  What if you allowed yourself to dream?

Dreams aren’t only for our children.  And they aren’t restricted to the workplace either.  We all have dreams and ambitions.  Maybe you want to reach out and make a new friend.  Or you want to try your hand at painting.  Perhaps one of us dreams of joining the church choir, or learning to play the piano.  Just in the last week we have learned about Olivia’s “bucket list.”  And we found out that Laura and her husband took the plunge and started their own business.

2013 Minneapolis MarathonLast year I achieved something that I would have never considered possible when I completed my first full marathon.  This from a girl who could hardly have been considered an athlete in high school.

What is your dream?  Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t been able to work up the courage to try?

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