As a child we are told “You can be anything you want to be!” I know this is a well-intentioned sentiment, and people mean it to be encouraging. However, the fact of the matter is it simply is not true. There are many things out there you can do with the right motivation and work ethic, but there are simply some things you cannot do.
As someone with health problems I will never be an Olympic runner. I could work at it for years and it is simply not going to happen, because my body cannot handle it. Likewise I will likely never ski. Skiing is something that would put me at great risk. I could potentially do it and walk away unharmed. I could also do it and walk away paralyzed. My bones are not structured the same way as other peoples and it increases this risk significantly.
If you are colorblind you can’t do a variety of jobs in the military, you have severe restrictions on becoming a pilot. If you require a wheelchair you aren’t going to play in the NBA. If you are born in Asia you aren’t going to be president of The United States, and if you can’t sing you aren’t going to become a Rock Star. (well I guess that one’s debatable)The list goes on and on.
Last week I was watching Shark Tank. There were two girls on the show who had designed a pair of jeans using a special material. None of the sharks chose to join them in their business with these jeans, and almost all of them told them that they had a great product and they were sure they could do it. However, one of the guys said you are not going to make it selling jeans. The market is no longer there. You are amazingly talented designers, design something else. People were outraged over his comments, but he explained that sometimes you have to be told your dream is not a reality so you have time to discover a new dream that could become a reality. What they were promoting was something that likely wasn’t going to happen for them. They could spend years working on it and still be as frustrated as they were that day, or they could reexamine their dreams and goals, come up with a new one that could become a reality, work towards it, and walk away happy.
So who was wrong? Is it worse to tell someone to give up on their dreams and discover a new one… or… is it worse to give someone false hope?
I don’t believe people should walk around and crush other peoples’ dreams, but it is important for people to do honest self-reflection about themselves and their dreams. Be willing to accept feedback, and adjust as necessary. Don’t give up just because you receive some criticism. I am sure we have all heard Michael Jordan’s story. Really look at things though, and look at them through honest and reflective eyes. Is this something that could happen for you? What’s going to make you happier, not giving up on this dream or creating a new one and achieving it? There is no wrong answer, but determine which it is for you and then go towards that. You may not be able to be whatever you want, but you can be something great, and that’s what matters!