The trouble with 'dreaming big'

As kids, we’re told to dream big. We’re told that nothing is impossible, that if we put our minds to it, we can achieve anything. I think there’s a lot to be gained from this message, and from positive reinforcement for children generally. But has the emphasis on achieving our dreams helped us, or hindered us?

The idea of dreaming big is often complicated by the reality that most young people don’t know where or how to locate those dreams. I spent almost my entire schooling life working towards something. I wasn’t sure what it was, exactly, but I was operating under the belief that it could—and should—be something worthy, something reflective of all the hard work I’d put in. I loved to write, was passionate about social justice, and hated math. So, naturally, law was the thing for me.

Now, having completed a double degree in Law/Arts in 2019, I’m not so sure law is ‘the thing’ for me. I’m currently finishing my graduate diploma before I can be admitted to practice as a solicitor (if that’s what I decide to do), and I’m also working in a policy team in State Government. So, sure, I have a direction, a pathway to follow, if I’d like. The question, then, is how do you know if the pathway you're on is the right one? How do you know when you've found your dream? 

Because really, what is a dream, anyway? Is it the thing that, as in my case, seems the best available fit? Is it the thing we love and are passionate about? The thing that earns the most money? Or the most power? Is it the practical, stable thing? The flexible thing? I guess if I have to ask, it means I haven’t found my dream yet. Or maybe I have, but I just haven't realised it. 

I guess, then, my plan is relatively simple and combines a lot of the advice I’ve received over the years: work hard, listen to your gut, try lots of things. We have a way of falling into things, and maybe that's enough.

Tagged in What messes with your head, health and wellbeing, mental health, Career ready, Student life, Study matters