Popular social media platforms often feature ‘memes’ on the variation of “you can be anything you want (if you put your mind to it / if you believe in yourself…)” etc. etc. etc.
While it may be hard to deny the initial appeal of such messages, it is very difficult to continually endorse these messages after you consider them thoroughly.
We are giving our children and loved ones (or those generally whom we care about) a false sense of hope, false sense of aspirations, and false expectations of the world and of how things “really work”.
I’m all for loving encouragement and well-meant guidance. But trying to spread a message of “you can be anything you want to be” is a HUGE disservice to the intended person, i.e. the “recipient”.
I’ve seen this firsthand many times in observation of others, as well as in my own life, as it affected me many times throughout my life, from early childhood, into adolescence, and into adult life.
When you hear this bogus message (and any of its popular variations), you really truly start to believe — whether realistic or not — that you truly can always do and be anything you want, because that’s what you’ve been told over and over, so it had to be true, right ?!?!
Well, I think, as a loving parent and caregiver myself, we need to immediately STOP with this conditioning-nonsense!
We are in fact causing great, and often irreparable, harm to the very people we love and care about, whom we were hoping (misguided as it may be) to inspire and encourage for their life’s path ahead.
Their are really countless, yes COUNTLESS, examples of how a child or person CANNOT necessarily become or do “anything they want” just because it’s their greatest dream or ambition in life, or because they sit there day-in, day-out, visualizing themselves doing it.
Many times there are real-life obstacles to our dreams and ambitions that cannot ever be overcome. Those obstacles will not change or diminish just because we want them to, unless there is a real change in circumstance, whereby the obstacles ceases to exist, OR we adjust our dream and ambition to SOMETHING ELSE.
Many human dreams, ambitions or goals bring with them certain “requirements” which you must meet, and if you do not, then you will not attain what you desire, no matter how hard you try, how many attempts you make, or how hard you believe, regardless of what you have been told by others. UNLESS the “requirements” (i.e. obstacles in your way) CHANGE, OR you are able to MEET those requirements, OR your CHOOSE SOMETHING ELSE, you will be facing a LOT of pain, hurt, disappointment and frustration.
Somewhere down the line, you will feel a lot of anger and resentment toward all those well-wishers with pink glasses on who kept telling you “you could”.
[question is: did they know the obstacles and requirements involved? did they really truly think you could do it, with those requirements and obstacles in place? or were they simply trying to be supportive of you and had no idea of what you might face once you tried?]
Any parent, caregiver, guardian, educator, etc. any person in a personal or professional position to have great influence over the life and mind of a young, impressionable person, should do themselves AND the child a big, life-changing and life-enhancing favor, and STOP spreading this non-sense “you can do and be anything you want”-lie, now and forever.
Let young people figure out the in’s and out’s of life, let them form their own ideas and figure out, through lengthy trial-and-error, which obstacles they can or cannot overcome, which requirements for a particular aspiration they might or might not be able to meet. But let’s not fill their heads with unreasonable wasteful dreams and hope, setting them up for immense failures and disappointments down the road.
Instead, it should be our collective — socially responsible — role, to help young generations strengthen their personal assets and abilities, help them discover themselves, and with our experiences (having been there, done that) lovingly guide them to things that might serve their own truest nature best, and not waste time or energy pursuing things that might never bear fruit or likely cause pain in the future.