Monday, October 6, 2014

Whatever the Fuck You Want

Bold Statement: You cannot just be whatever the fuck you want to be because it makes you happy.

When we were in grade school, junior high, high school, and even into college, people told us over and over that we could be whatever we wanted. Everybody tells kids they can be whatever they want to be, no matter what. Oh you want to be a superhero? Do it! You want to be rich and never work? Okay go for it! We are raised being told that whatever we want to do, we can certainly do - and the details will just work out for us.

Side note, when I was 5, I told my mom I wanted to be Clyde Drexler. I was in kindergarten and he came to my school. And he was amazing. So amazing that I wanted to be him. All my dreams were shattered when she told me that logistically, a short little white girl could not actually become a 7 foot tall black man.

By telling kids they can do what they want, be what they want, make whatever they want of themselves, aren't we setting up the next generation for failure? I mean, think about it. We don't all get to be whatever we want. I wanted to be Clyde Drexler. What if my mom had said, okay baby girl, go for it? How bummed would I have been all these years later, when I was in fact, not Clyde Drexler?

We cannot all possibly be whatever the fuck we want to be. We cannot all become rich and famous. We cannot all be star athletes. We don't all get to work in careers we love where the money flows like fine wine - in fact many of us will continue to make ends meet by working in jobs we actually hate. Because we have to, not because we want to. Not everyone is smart enough to be a surgeon, and of the ones who are smart enough, not all of them will ever be able to afford to go to medical school. Not everyone is creative; not everyone can write or read or do math or use applied science. But we continue to push kids through the program, encouraging them to just keep trying, just keep applying themselves - you can be whatever you want to, it'll all work out.

Not. Always.

I operate very much in my right brain. I am creative and free thinking, emotional and reactive, and completely void of any natural mathematical competence, Do I do math for a living? Yes. Do I like math? Not even one bit. So why do I have a job in which I have to do something I dislike repeatedly throughout the day? Because my parents raised me to work hard and to be independent, as opposed to encouraging me to go ahead and become that beach bumming creative writer that I desperately want to be. What would make me the happiest in life, would be to sit in a lawn chair drinking champagne in my panties and a hoodie, all day every day, with a laptop - one that has a great click to the keyboard - writing words. That's what I would love to do, that's my dream. Sunshine, alcohol, the ocean, and an amazing man to sit next to me while I type away.

But I can't do that. I have to pay rent, have to buy food. I can't be drunk on champagne every day and write the next great reads based on my own soul. I have to put pants on sometimes, and it isn't always sunny. I have to have a job - one that pays real money - in order to have a place to live and to own the pants I wish I didn't have to wear.

You can't always be whatever the fuck you want to be. And the best thing we can do is stop telling kids in school that they can be. Because they can't. Wouldn't it be better to encourage them to do what they're good at, what they excel in? I mean, I'm not saying we should all go around bashing kids and shooting their dreams into oblivion, but at the same time, I feel like some healthy, realistic goals would be better than an unattainable pipe dream. I can never be Clyde Drexler. I can never be a tall leggy blonde. I also can never be an unemployed yet somehow self-providing independent drunk writer. And I'm okay with that. Because I understand the difference between dreams and goals. I know that I can dream of a world with no pants, but that my life goals will require that I get dressed every morning by about 8:00.

I'm all for having dreams. But when we recognize a dream as unattainable, let's focus on what we can accomplish, what we can do, where we can go, what we can change...because it isn't always whatever we want.