Halloween… My favorite time of year. Children arrive at your door, and they have no doubt about their authenticity. When kids put on their Halloween costumes, they truly believe that they are who they’ve dressed to be. Tonight, a beautiful 4—year old girl with golden curls stood at my door, looked me straight in the eye and hollered “Happy Halloweeeeeeen!” She was confident and stood at the front of the pack. The most delightful aspect of her presence was that she didn’t see herself as a 4-year old in costume. In that moment, she was Superwoman, and she was claiming her chocolate.
Pre-schoolers and kindergarteners are pure in spirit and inventive. What you see is what you get. They expect this to be true at their age, as well. They don’t get caught up in worrying about whether or not they can be what they want to be. They haven’t experienced decades and decades of resistance or a lifetime of unfortunate messages that slow their pace toward achieving their dreams.
At exactly what age do we compromise and stop believing that anything is possible? I am pretty certain that the big compromise occurs sometimes after 18. I say this, because for many years, I worked in College Admissions. I have been to hundreds of College Fairs, and talked with thousands of high school students about what they intend to do with their life. They are generally limitation-free. Whenever students talked with me about their plans, I made it a practice to refrain, at this event, from any negative commentary about the likely mismatch between aspiration to enroll at a college or go into a particular field and their scholastic aptitude. In instances such as these, I’d try to learn more about why the student was drawn to the field and broaden his/her awareness of how many different careers there were in a field where they were not likely to be academically matched. I had no interest in diminishing their spirit. College Fair night was like Halloween. Teenagers felt that anything was possible.
I don’t think that the big compromise occurs by 22. I have hired and managed many new college graduates. They arrive, with their alma mater bravado, degree in hand, ready to change the world and advance rapidly in their career. Some of them will! Some will wish for more freedom and empowerment than their companies will give them. They’ll likely work long hours and do work that is far less sexy than they ever imagined. I know I did. I recall that my first career position after college was as an Administrative Assistant in and Education and Meetings area of the Illinois CPA Society. I answered phones, made about twenty pots of coffee per day, set out lunch, typed contracts and learned how to be a meeting planner. I know now that what I brought to the job was a degree from a fine institution, enthusiasm and pep. Naturally, with that fine resume and no work experience, I felt underpaid and underappreciated for my talents. Though I thought I could fly, I made some crash landings in my work that might have gotten other people fired. Thankfully, I had patient bosses. They never told me to expect less or belittled my belief in what I could accomplish. They allowed me to maintain my optimism and self-confidence.
I’m 50, and as I look around, most everyone has made the big compromise. Fortunately, I didn’t get the memo. Where do you stand in terms of the adventures you’d like in life? We’re almost to 2012 – a year that is billed as being a time of great transition. If you could choose to change your path, where would you go? As always, I welcome feedback and would love to know where you’re headed with your superhero self.
Destiny Rising, LLC