Growing up I wanted to be President of the United States. I was serious about this goal and told many people about it. One person very important to me told me that I’d never be able to do this because I was a woman and I didn’t have the right last name. I remember feeling hurt by that response and even though I didn’t let it stop me from achieving goals, I do believe it allowed an invisible line to manifest inside my mind, filtering out the goals I might not ever be able to accomplish.
I had forgotten about that moment until now. My youngest daughter loves gymnastics and told me that she wanted to go to the Olympics one day. An audacious goal? Yes. A goal that thousands of other young children dream of? Of course. But, my immediate reaction in that moment was “You can do it! That’s awesome! Go for it! I BELIEVE IN YOU.” The belief you can do something starts somewhere and it starts with you. If I start telling her she can’t or detailing how few people actually make it there, I’d be drawing that invisible line in her mind. I never want that.
I want my children to dream their wildest dreams. I want their imagination to run rampant while it can, so that it will create a vast world of possibilities, instead of limitations, in their minds. Society will do its part to attempt to stifle and dispute their dreams, so I certainly don’t need to be an additional negative voice.
As much as parents try, we can’t protect our kids from everything. We need to let them take risks. If we don’t let them fail or experience disappointment, we aren’t giving them the tools they need to be brave or overcome fear and adversity. It is easy enough to be hard on ourselves and to impose limitations on our abilities. As parents, we don’t need to be adding to that burden on our children.
I’ve seen it with my girls, when they want something bad enough, they make it happen. I want to encourage and cultivate that passion and let them learn through their own experiences.
So, even though I haven’t become President of the United States, I have pushed myself to achieve a lot in my young life. I’m now the executive director of an amazing nonprofit where I am able to work on my passion, every single day. I was even the president of my student body during my college career (so I guess I was president of something!).
If my girls have big dreams, I want more than anything in this world for them to excitedly pursue those dreams until they become a reality. I say the first step in that direction is to never, ever tell them they can’t do something.