A friend of mine is an actress who recently starred in the first film she herself wrote and directed. She loved working behind the camera so much that she is now considering leaving acting to focus on filmmaking but is somewhat struggling with this decision.
“I’m afraid to quit acting. I’ve wanted to be an actress since I was seven years old.”
Many people are reluctant to abandon their childhood dreams. They feel like if they let go of their youthful ambition, they’ve failed.
But my question is this: why must we choose our dreams when we’re young? Why should a seven-year-old get to determine our life path? You wouldn’t take financial advice from a kid. You wouldn’t let a child tell you whom to marry. Is it logical to allow the romanticism of your youth dictate your career choice?
As we age, we learn what our dreams cost. A seven year-old fantasizing about a life in the movies thinks about fame and glamour. She doesn’t think about headshots, auditions and rejection. She doesn’t think about memorizing lines, taking direction and long, long waits on a movie set. She doesn’t think about how acting fits in with other wishes such as her desire to travel, to marry and to be a mom someday. It’s not that acting is a bad profession. There’s just a lot more to it than what a kid can envision.
Dreams are worthy pursuits as long as they’re consistent with what matters most to us now. Our values evolve over time, and it’s OK to change our dreams to keep up with this evolution.
When you’re young, you want excitement and adventure. You want to prove yourself and make your loved ones proud. You dream big and work hard. As you age, you’ll probably desire more stability. You’ll seek quiet hours and relaxation. You’ll have a greater need for balance and have more concern for your health. You may also trade in some of your own ambition to support the success of your kids.
These generalizations may not describe how your values will change. Change itself, however, is part of maturing. When you embrace it, you’ll open up to a world of new goals and possibilities.
So don’t be afraid to give up on old dreams to make room for new ones. You may not have the life you dreamed of as a child, but you might end up with one you can enjoy as an adult.