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Get Real. Not Realistic.

I pride myself in being “real.”

You know, real. Open, honest, vulnerable real. Not transformed-into-Tyra-Banks-from-an-Eve-doll-real (enjoy, 90’s friends). I figure that’s pretty obvious.

As a self-proclaimed “real” human being, you’d think I’d enjoy the vast variety of real-words in the dictionary: really, realness, realism, realtor(?).

Mostly, I do… but there’s this one word I struggle with and I’m here to convince you that you do too. Realistic.

I know what you’re thinking, “Kim, how dare you claim I’m struggling with this word. You don’t know me. That’s just unrealistic! Yep. Precisely my point.

I’m curious, how do we move from a place of telling our children they can grow up to be anything they dream — to one day explaining, conditioning their impressionable minds that they need to be realistic?

You know the story. It’s been told to you. And me.
Positive intent but lingering consequences.

Zoe (age 6): When I grow up, I’m going to be an astronaut!
Mom (age 36): You can do it, sweetheart! (sends kid to space camp… so fun)
Zoe: (age 16): *scouring college websites* Mom! Mom! I found it, Embry-Riddle! Can you imagine me, a real astronaut!
Mom (age 46): Zoe, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. Your father and I have been saving a little money for college but we don’t have enough for you to go out of state. Besides, let’s be honest you hate being in the car for long drives, you would never handle it well in space! There’s not a high demand for astronauts like there are accountants or nurses right now! This dream of yours is just not realistic. It’s time you got serious and started looking at in-state schools that will give you a well-rounded degree so you can get a solid job.
Zoe: (age 18+): Goes to an in-state school, obtains a well-rounded degree, gets a solid job (she picked nurse, if you were wondering).

Someone recently shared with me an alternative view on this sad cycle, and I’m completely onboard. Let’s play it out:

Zoe (age 6): When I grow up, I’m going to be an astronaut!
Mom: You can do it, sweetheart! (sends kid to space camp… so fun)
Zoe: (age 16): *scouring college websites* Mom! Mom! I found it, Embry-Riddle! Can you imagine me, a real astronaut!
Mom: Zoe, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. First of all, your father and I totally support you in this dream but there are some things you should understand. The reality is that this journey will not be easy for you, but you can do it. Your father and I have been saving a little money for college but because Embry-Riddle is out of state, you need to start applying for scholarships now. It’s important to understand all of the requirements you need to become an astronaut. Some will take you years to accomplish. You’re going to see your friends go to college and get jobs right away, and that might make you feel like you’re behind. I’ve been there. Just remember that this is your dream and the reward will be so great. You can do it, sweetheart.
Zoe(age 18+): Attends Embry-Riddle, fails out.
[Just kidding, she totally rocked it and she’s at the space station right now… #badass.]

Here’s the point: We need better awareness around what we’re saying to each other. Whether we’re talking to our children or our co-workers, realistic is an adjective to describe how like-real something is — in my view, from a factual perspective.

Positive intent cannot be a replacement for our own mistakes which lead to lifelong learning and growth. I challenge us to take it out of our vocabulary as the weapon it’s become.

Whether Zoe becomes the rockstar astronaut or not, the honest truth is, it’s realistic for her to become one.

Parallel listen: “California” by O.A.R. | The Mighty

What do you think? I’m grateful to read your opinions.
What other words are we struggling with?

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Leading from curiosity & courage #daretolead #weare1light

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