What Did You Want to be When You Grew Up?

Do you remember when you were a child…and dreamed of what you’d become?

I grew up in the days of Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, not the Gadot version (though she’s good, too). Carter’s WW was the perfect combination of intelligence, beauty, strength, and kindness. I knew that she was just a character on T.V. but I believed I could be just like her…a Wonder Woman! (I even practiced the turn and lasso throw!)

As I was thinking about this memory and preparing for today’s post, I realized that today is Theodor Geisel’s birthday. He is affectionately known as Dr. Seuss (pronounced Zoice, not Zoose), author of countless children’s books. Children are invited to allow their imaginations to soar and consider the “wonder” they could become on this day.

All of this kept swirling around my own imagination.

Children are fearless souls. When they have an interest, without hesitation, they connect it to what their future self can/will be. Astronaut, Firefighter, Engineer, Doctor, Painter, Writer, etc. They do not doubt that they can do/be anything they dream of doing/being.

How many of us can say we’ve become the “wonder” we dreamed of becoming?

Statistics reveal that almost 80% of adults are not working in the job or career they dreamed of as a child. Some may like their job well enough. But staggering reports reveal that 70% of people in the United States hate their jobs.

How did this happen? At what point did the dream of all that could be morph into just what had to be?

“That’s life,” one friend responded. My silver-lining perspective on life wouldn’t allow me to just leave it at that.

Life throws curve balls and sets up roadblocks. Yes, I agree. I've experienced my share. However, it is my response to these that has determined where my journey led next. And responses are not developed at a moment in time. They are rooted in one's character.

For example, as a child, my parents were very clear that ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ were part of the framework of any request. Sure. They had to remind us…What’s the magic word? Or, remember to say, thank you. (Those with children in their lives may do some version of this.) By the time I was in college, I had begun working a summer job in my father’s office. He often received comments about how polite I had been. That didn’t happen overnight…it was cultivated by many years of reminders and practice. By then, it had become part of my modus operandi.

That’s exactly how my outlook on life’s challenges evolved. Over time. Problem after problem. Failed attempts after failure. But in every circumstance that I would’ve rather avoided, there was a search for the lesson to be learned, practice applying a positive perspective. Maybe not at the time...but at some point during the recovery. And even if it may have felt like it at the time, not one of those rough patches has taken me out!

Now that I think about it…I am a Wonder Woman.

Here’s some good news: You are a wonder, too.

I know. It sounds clichéd. But that doesn’t make it any less true! If you have difficulty believing it, it is time for a perspective check.

Take a moment to think about where you are right now…inside (emotionally, spiritually, mentally). Do you feel unrest? Are you driven by anxiety and worry? Are you facing situations that feel hopeless? Sit with those feelings for a moment. Take a few deep breaths. (There is evidence that deep breathing releases stress & toxins from the body, promotes better blood flow, and reduces blood pressure.)

Then ask yourself: What is the worst case scenario for what I’m dealing with? If every avenue is blocked, what is the worst that could happen? Write your answers. Now, think: How would I cope if these happened?

Think about past experiences that have been challenging but you’ve successfully navigated. Remind yourself that you have the capacity to manage hard seasons like you have before. Then consider your current obstacles. See if they loom as large as they had before doing this exercise.

I initiate self-talk at this point. I suggest talking to yourself aloud, so you can hear yourself. (Sometimes we do not hear how we sound.) I become deaf to my own voice unless I intentionally listen. Engage intentionality with the words spoken and in the listening. From this, your outlook has an opportunity to change.

Once you have a positive perspective, you can begin to see where you can make small, actionable shifts to express your personal wonder in and through your life. Maybe you’ve always enjoyed flowers and would’ve loved to arrange them for a living. But to give up your current job to do this may feel irresponsible, especially with your child's college education approaching. You can, however, begin to keep fresh flowers in your house on a regular basis. This would both bring life into your space and give voice to your creative expression. Or you can take a course in floral design at a local college or adult school. Who knows...maybe in five years you can pursue a career as a floral designer...?

Many think that to be great and to live as a "wonder," you must have big sweeping exploits such as write over 60 children’s books or save the world, like Dr. Seuss and the Wonder Woman, respectively…but it’s in the small, faithful expressions of the authentic self where “wonder” is revealed to the world. Oh, the places we can go with that!

Until next time…