As far back as I can remember I was always asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I remember when I was 7, sat in the front row of the classroom, struggling to keep my eyes open after lunch, I was asked by my teacher what I wanted to become when I was older, I said I wanted to be a pilot, I don’t know why I said that, may be because it was the new fancy thing I’d watched in a movie. I don’t know! But then when did I lose the desire to become a pilot, when did it start seeming like a better idea to be an air hostess instead, to dress up beautifully and land in fancy cities and new time zones.
I remember the time when I started realising how badly my parents wanted me and my sister to be the first in everything and how that pushed me to do new things, telling myself I could achieve anything, sometimes that conviction wasn’t backed by courage but I carried on nonetheless. At school, I always raised my hand, I wanted to be the one who answered every question, participated in every competition, when I didn’t get selected, I felt it was unfair, like I deserved to run every race. Time and life seem somewhat blurry when I start to work out exactly when I decided to study Science and pursue engineering, when did I stray away from Economics and Literature. Why did I not hang on to the poetry of Wordsworth and Shakespeare as much as I did to Maths and Chemistry, did I love art enough to accept being poor, because it seemed easier to get a job if I studied Science.
Ironically, the question, ‘what I wanted to do when I grew up?’ stopped, it was no longer staring me in the face as it was a few years ago. In 2009, I went to Jaipur to attend a literary fest and I remember everyone was scrambling to meet their favourite authors, quietly pumping their dreams with confidence and inspiration. Tina Brown, Shashi Tharoor, William Dalrymple, they were all there. On the way back I found myself talking to the girls sat next to me on the coach, telling them how much I wanted to write a book, ‘a fiction, I said, because it steals you away from reality’, my typical lines, I’m smiling as I write this. I remember setting myself a distant milestone allowing enough time, at that time it was before I graduated. It didn’t happen, the book of course, not the graduation! I look back and think how fascinated I was with my ideas and aspirations, I was contagiously enthused, still am a bit.
Two successful interviews later I found myself working in an IT company. I was 22. It was at 22 when sayings like ‘nothing is impossible’ and ‘you can be anything’, the brave and inspiring things you get told in school and university, that stopped. Success soon started getting monitory definitions, how much do you earn? How fancy are your holidays, your shoes, your car, do you own a house? So we started chasing pay days and weeks started merging into months that blurred into years.
6 years down the line, I wonder why we stop our little adventures, why do we stop asking ourselves that important question, what we really want to do when we grow up? Why do we lose hope that anything is actually possible! Reality is empowering but so are our dreams ! Why does age make us choose the former?
The thing is, when I see my friends from school doing well, I feel happy and proud I want to see us all flourish under our own umbrellas of hopes and dreams. I want us to never stop asking what we want to do when we grow up, because really, we are always growing, we are so young, so powerful, I don’t want us to lose the sense of adventure and I don’t want us to think that possibilities will fade with age, because you know what, the designer, the fitness coach, the social worker, the CEO, the actor, the doctor, the runner, the blogger. You know, we could be them one day, and I want you to believe in that because imagine how beautiful you would make the world, the workplace, the surroundings, if you got to where you wanted to get and did what made you unthinkably happy!
I want you to dream a crazy dream in 2017 and chase it!
Photography by: Jennifer Sinclair [http://jennifersinclair.co.uk]
What I’m wearing:
Dress: River Island (similar)
Shoes: Zara (similar)
Coat: Miss Selfridge