I have seen a vast gap in the people I encounter on social media lately. People I love and care for. 1) There are those with lofty ideas and goals and lots of discipline and drive. 2) There are those who are living life just to live. They vary from just working and parenting and dating to working just for the next vacation and to get by. 3) Then there are those who have lived much of their lives in survival mode. They know what major depression feels like. They know what it means to fight for their own lives – whether they actually do or not varies – and they may have even struggled with obvious addiction. I say obvious because I think most of society has addictions, they just happen to be acceptable ones like caffeine.
Today I’m mostly talking to the 2nd and 3rd groups but I believe that this still applies to all. There are disappointment and discouragement that has rained down for hundreds of years and it has stolen from so many, the ability to dream and think creatively.
I tried to find a study, so I could quote it exactly, and couldn’t find it. It says a very high percentage of kindergarteners believe they are artists. By the time they get to first grade a much smaller percentage does. What happens? Do they somehow lose skills over the summer?
My nine-year-old wants to be a paleontologist-inventor-billionaire. Ironman meets Jurassic World. My eight-year-old wants to be an animal trainer and caregiver. She imagines Hiccup from “How to Train Your Dragon” taming the dragon and this has become her vision for her future. Of course, she’ll be sparkly and riding a unicorn while doing it. My three-year-old wants to have a mustache and drive a tractor. (haha) I hear adults step in to dash their dreams all the time. “Maybe you should consider a real career?” “You can’t just BE a billionaire.” I’ve even caught myself wanting to tell my nine-year-old that most paleontologists are broke. UGH!
While looking for my kindergartener study I came across a Ted Talk that spoke about genius level imaginative thinking and how rapidly it diminishes as we grow up.
Adults drop 97% percent from those tested at 4-5 years old. That’s astounding! The creative thinking he called ‘divergent thinking’ and he says it is unlearned very quickly. He cited internal culprits to our diminishing wits: judging, criticizing and censoring. I actually agree with this point. However, I don’t believe that kindergarteners came up with thoughts like “is that really going to work,” “yeah, but you can’t build an actual spaceship out of cardboard” and “only rich kids get degrees like that.”
What about you?
Where’d YOUR motivation go?
Did you ever have it?
Was there a time you’d dream about when you grew up and what you wanted to be?
I had one mom say in front of my very artistic son “yeah, but you can’t make any money from art.” I wanted to cover his ears!!! She’s right. SHE can’t make money from it but that’s only because she doesn’t believe that she can. I personally know artists making a living from their art. They are impactful. They are NOT funded by rich parents either.
I have this theory about Americans that spend countless hours on Netflix and immersed in video games. I have this theory about all of the people that work their fingers to the bone and come home, eat and lose themselves in a beer and the tv. I have this theory about the thousands and thousands of people who come home from work, smile at their kids, eat family dinner, help get them to bed and then sit around “relaxing.” It’s the same theory I have for the stay-at-home moms who strive for Pinterest-worthy lives, post their achievements on social media and have days where they struggle to get off the couch. Whether it’s one day a week or many.
Walking depression is where much of Society is living. We function, we smile, we live. We grumble but we’re funny about it so we aren’t REALLY sad about it.
If you just don’t feel like doing things that you would normally enjoy or if you find yourself complacent… falling into distractions… then you may have walking depression.
Another point that was made on the Ted Talk I found really interesting is this:
Far less of the brain can be used when you’re operating in fear. Many of these doubts that we clothe our children income out of our own fears. If that mom was introspective for a moment and paused to think “why do I believe artists can’t make a living with their art,” she might discover that she’s an artist and someone told her she couldn’t make a living with it. Or she tried to and “failed.” So, her comment is rooted in fear of failure and she projected it onto my son. Clothing, bedding, wall art, HOBBY LOBBY for goodness sake are all possible because of artists.
I have to share one of my husband’s distractions because it makes a different point. It’s something he’s very talented at, skilled even. Finding the deal. He will research, research research. Read. Compare. And finally, savvy his way into a good deal. I know… this doesn’t seem like a weakness. It isn’t. In and of itself. But when his go-to becomes finding something else he can research instead of staying on track and working on his goals…. When he gets lost in the side hustle and forgets the day to day that’s slowly getting behind… it’s then, it becomes a problem for him. He has to be intentional to not allow this to take away from his goals.
The real introspection should be this: what is he avoiding that he really, deep down, wants to be doing? What’s keeping him from staying on track?
Confession… My escape is being busy. I’m super project-oriented. I like to improve upon things and check boxes. This also leads to avoiding planning for the future and not living intentionally. I will put off the things that I need to be doing because now I’ve created a giant project that “needs” to get finished by a certain time. I will work till full-on exhaustion and not be able to make a healthy dinner or grocery shop or fold laundry or reply to email or take the time to practice and write… because “the project needs me.” I have to be honest though… that is robbing from my future
I think that’s part of the issue. We allow distractions to keep us from “adulting” in ways we know we should, and those distractions are forms or procrastination. Avoidance. However, the other thing, the one that keeps us from dreaming at all is that we’ve been dumbed down and have lived in a discouraging atmosphere so long we no longer see our own value, the value of those around us and the possibilities among us. We fear failure, question our abilities, doubt change and generally discourage ourselves with all of the things that have been spoken over or to us. Because of this heavy atmosphere above our shoulders we are too tired, it’s “too hard” and “why bother” become our new normal. These mindsets just get buried when we find comforts in our daily glass of wine and tv show with our significant other.
How do we step out of that? We don’t get a do-over. You can’t go back. So, how do we pull that kindergarten mindset of wonder and amazement of the world back into our present and allow ourselves to dream, plan, set goals, achieve them and simply start to think outside the box? How do we get back to a belief in ourselves? How do we become intentional about living for the future by being present right now instead of losing ourselves in the millions of distractions?
I get really tired of the MLMs and sales webinars that start out trying to get you to dream for the future. They want to get you excited about something bigger and better so they can give you a way to get there. But if you are one of those that roll your eyes at that very thought you may need to go back and figure out what robbed you of being able to dream for the future. What made you believe you couldn’t do that? Who told you that you’re limited? What lies do you need to throw away?
We have to start with the belief systems that are holding us back. We have to start with the “you can’t” and the “you shouldn’t” and the “that’s not for you.” Too many people have projected onto our tiny hearts and now we’ve absorbed the lies. Who says you can’t? Who says you shouldn’t? Who says that’s not for you? Right now, the only one that’s saying it to you is you.