You are not a loser for not knowing what you want to be when you grow up.
At least, that’s what I’m trying to tell myself. I envy the folks who have always known what they wanted to be when they hit adulthood, took the steps necessary to pursue those goals, and are now the hero of their own childhood. In my childhood memory book, every year I had a different answer for my future occupation: nurse, teacher, ballerina, veterinarian, and then the pages go blank. Eventually I figured out I was a decent writer and decided I wanted to pursue a career in publishing. My plan was to work for a publishing house as an editor or in acquisitions, but if I’m honest, I don’t know that I would have ever made the move to New York. Maybe in another life.
I know they say that it’s never too late to follow your dreams, but the reality is, sometimes it can be too late. For example, if I wanted to become a veterinarian at this stage of my life, I’d be forty before I finished the schooling for it. I’m still young enough that forty feels old. Or if I wanted to become a psychologist and counselor, which was the original reason I chose my university – their psych department – similar time frame. Technically, I could still pursue those fields, but it might not be the best decision. Some things have passed me by like ships in the night and I’ve accepted that with little mourning.
However, that doesn’t mean that all dreams are dead. I have dreams that are closer to reality and more achievable, and I have new dreams that my husband and I are in the process of sorting through. The key to that though, is what I missed doing when I was a young, naïve, undergrad student: making a plan.
Dreams will remain in their dreamy state until a solid plan is formed. Plans are actionable steps we take to achieve our goals, and they create incentive to follow-through on the bigger picture.
Allow me to be my own worst critic for a moment. I am a personality hybrid. I am a Type A, control enthusiast, but I am also a big dreamer. I can come up with ideas all the live-long day but I lack follow-through. My skill to create incentive to follow-through on my ideas is weak, mostly because it’s out of practice. I am always surprised by my own abilities, which tells me that I lack self-confidence. But as I get older and have started caring less about what people think of me, I’ve started asking myself what it is I truly want out of this life:
I want to run half-marathons. I want to eventually homestead. I want to write and make a living from writing. I want to invest in real estate. And most importantly, I want to live a life that is pleasing to God and aligns with His will for my time on earth as His child and missionary. As such, I make plans to be the woman that accomplishes these goals. I make incentives for myself, and I make the time for these goals to be my priorities.
So, let me reiterate: not all dreams are dead. But in order for your dream to become your reality, you have to lace up your boots and do the darn thing. It might be too late for me to pursue a career that requires eight more years of schooling*, but it’s not too late for me to run a half-marathon (check), plan my homestead, learn about being a landlord and investing, and becoming a writer (check).
I’m not a loser for not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up, but because I didn’t know and didn’t have a real plan, I did lose out on some opportunities. This might not be the most popular message or the thing you want to hear, depending on your stage of life. But it’s real life, and I value honesty, even it’s it hard to hear.
But the bigger truth and hope is this: God’s not done. I don’t believe that you have just one shot at your career or your purpose or your happiness. I believe God can use you in any season of life. If there are dreams that passed you by, I believe God will bless you with new dreams that are within your reach. He is the God of second chances, but you need to be ready to take the dream He gives you and make a plan for achieving that dream.
You’re not a loser for not knowing what you want to be when you grow up, but you do need be intentional in your pursuits. You CAN do it.
*I realize that plenty of people go back to school to pursue additional or completely different degrees. My best friend is one such person, and I have considered going back to school as well to expand on my current degree. In this post, I am speaking about my personal choices and what is realistic for my life and my family.
**pictured: poem by Rupi Kaur, featured in Homebody