It’s about ten minutes into a traditional Sunday call with my mom, talking about the same stuff — catching up with the happenings of last week, the most recent developmental advancements with my sixteen-month-old daughter, loosely planning upcoming family get-togethers. You know how it goes.
But the conversation takes an interesting turn. Perhaps inspired by my own mid-twenties existential crisis, I ask…
“Mom, what did you want to be when you were growing up?”
“A movie star”, she immediately responds. “I wanted to inspire people and to make a difference in their lives, even if only for ninety minutes. I thought that my work on screen could allow people to explore their emotions.”
To her credit, my mom had a decent film career — dozens of small appearances in movies and television, and even a part in the world famous 1971 Coca-Cola commercial “Hilltop.” But like 99 percent of ambitious young actors, she never landed the breakthrough role to catapult her into perpetual stardom. So, she chose a different career.
The way that she describes why she wanted to be an actress resonates with me at this particular moment. The exact words she uses — and the way she emphasizes them — sheds some light on something astonishing.
For the last few years, my mom has been an art therapist for at-risk and underprivileged youth. Her kids open up and express their emotions during her sessions. She helps children work through devastating hardships and debilitating personal issues. They will forever be changed by the work she did in shaping their young minds.
She’s so proud of the work that she does, and humblebrags how the kids are absolutely enamored with her. When she walks around campus, they follow her around screaming, “Miss Laurie, Miss Laurie!” She feels famous. It’s like she is a…movie star.
Think back to when you were a child. You had no inhibitions, no labels, no predispositions, no restrictions, and no harsh filters of reality that prevented you from ascertaining that a particular industry or career path — no matter its outlandish nature— was for you.
Some kids dream of being doctors, astronauts, or firefighters. Then they grow up and become doctors, astronauts, and firefighters. But this is the minority. Most of us dream of becoming racing car drivers, veterinarians, and secret agents, yet we wind up doing something far different. Or do we?
When Tony Robbins — yes, the larger-than-life Tony Robbins — was just a kid, he had absolute conviction of his career choice. He wanted to be a rockstar and an archaeologist. Modest enough, right?
Decades later, you may not think that the famous speaker, performance coach, and author fulfilled the calling he saw as a young boy. But that’s where you would be wrong.
Tony Robbins is a rockstar. He hosts wild events that involve loud music, electric atmospheres, passionate fans, and even people walking on fire.
Tony Robbins is also an archeologist. He helps people dig and uncover things about themselves. He has empowered millions to metaphorically unearth valuable findings that were buried deep below the surface.
You see, many more of us are doing the things we wanted to do as kids. It just might not have manifested in the way we first envisioned. I’m not so convinced that people radically reinvent themselves between the ages of eight and eighty.
Our aspirations and ambitions don’t really change over our lives. Rather, the mechanism for reaching them does. We all knew what we wanted to do from a surprisingly young age. It may be possible that you are in fact doing what you wanted to as a kid.
If you don’t think you are, close your eyes, and pretend you are young again. What do you see? Trust your younger self — you knew what you wanted to be way back then.