Dreams and aspirations are as unique as each individual person. They are what keep us moving forward – without them we stagnate, adopt negative attitudes, and become closed to all possibilities.
But, what makes us stop dreaming in the first place? I would hypothesize that the root cause of some cases of apathy is the absence of those basic needs I discussed in last week’s blog. If you cannot imagine anything beyond basic survival, how can you aspire for more?
However, in the cases of many of the young people I meet, who cannot put words to what they hope for the future, I believe it is because they were never given the opportunity or encouragement to pursue anything besides what is prescribed within the system.
I can’t begin to explain the sadness I feel when I ask a seventeen or eighteen-year-old, “what do you envision as the next step?” And, they reply with a shrug or an “I don’t know.” The spark of excitement I see in a younger child’s eyes when I ask the same question, simply, isn’t there. It is my fondest wish that in the short time they are with us at DRC, they too will find inspiration during a mentoring session, or, better yet, when they come to me in the middle of the day and say, “I would like to try …”.
Imagine the difference if we always told (and modeled for) our children:
Explore, investigate, play, be silly, and have fun - instead of do your homework, get good grades, and excel on the test.
Dig deep and become immersed – rather than skim the surface.
Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them – as an alternative to - be perfect.
Seek out unusual opportunities – instead of - follow the culturally dictated path.
Embrace all your idiosyncrasies and be yourself – as opposed to - conform.
Welcome change and be bold – rather than - be afraid.
Accept responsibility – as an alternative to - blame.
Be kind, compassionate, non-judgmental and be willing to work together in collaboration – as opposed to - be critical and competitive.
Dare to - create and design, envision all the possibilities, find allies, screw-up and apologize, scrutinize and probe new ideas, become absorbed and engrossed, and blaze your own personal journey based on your interests and passions – not those determined by society.