As we go through schooling and learn more about the world and academic subjects, we start to refine for ourselves what we want out of life. We begin to put pieces together and see what we want to do, what our job might be, what our future could hold. The further into the school system we get, the more and more logical and realistic we become about it, too. We know what jobs pay the best and what we actually want to do and try to find a middle ground between that.
It seems safe to say, that through this process, we lose a lot of our imagination. That child like spark that we once had which enabled us to see beyond the confines of our present reality. When you ask a college student or even a high school student what they want to do when they "grow up," you'll likely get a worldly, reasonable answer, that has been calculated and thought through. But ask a younger child and you can get any sort of answer.
I had the opportunity to talk with a few kids in middle school who seemed to still hold on strong to their imagination about the world and their futures. When I asked them what they wanted to do when they grew up, one student told me:
"Well if I don't become a pro sports player, then I'll be in the FBI. I've always wanted to be in the FBI. And if that doesn't work out, I've always wanted to be one of those rodeo clowns that entertains people. And if that doesn't work out, I think I'll be, like, a teacher."
For him, anything was still possible. And I don't mean to write this piece telling you that the impending adult world will set in and suddenly your options are limited. In fact, it's the opposite. However, our imaginations and confidence in ourselves seems to shift as we grow and we feel like the world's responsibilities constrict what we can and can't do with our lives.
Think back to what you wanted to be when you were a kid. After you remember (if you can), what's the immediate thought that pops up following it? I know for me, it's something along the lines of "yeah well, I can't do that, it'd take too much schooling," or cost too much, or isn't feasible. Any number of excuses could pop up, seeming to blockade us from what we want to do.
That's the restriction of our imagination. And then, with time, that seems to diminish and we simply think less grand thoughts. The burden of knowledge about the world, adult responsibilities, living what society deems a 'good life,' all get in the way of those thoughts. Then we stop having them.
But it doesn't have to be doom and gloom. Try and take some time just to think with your mind as open as you can, about all the things you want to do in the future, whether big or small. If we can allow ourselves to accept that it's possible, being an adult puts us in a position where we can make things happen. Let your imagination grow back, push through the cracks in the pavement of knowledge, as it were. Every now and then, give yourself the chance to be a kid again.