Original blog post: I believe that dreams can come true
What do you want to be when you grow up?
How many of us know that?
How many of us can answer this truthfully?
The children’s authenticity shamed me
Because even as a kid, I could never truly be honest about my dreams. Whenever it was time to write the annual “What do you want to be when you grow up?” essay; I’d write wonderful A+ essays on being a teacher, a doctor… because those were things adults (my teachers grading the essay, my parents reading the essay) would want to hear.
At the age of 5, when I won my first art competition and declared that I wanted to be a painter; I was already taught to be “politically correct”. “Nobody makes a successful living out of painting. Painters only become famous after they die. There has not been a single Singaporean painter who has had paintings sold all over the world.” Therefore, “You are better off being a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, a manager… And when you have earned enough money, then you can do the things you really like.”
So I learnt. It didn’t matter if I like going for art classes, ballet classes, speech and drama classes better than going to school. It didn’t matter if I’d rather be singing and dancing to my Dad’s cassettes than memorizing my 6 times table. Because I am only allowed to do the things I really like, after I’ve earned enough money. And to earn enough money, I have to work hard and do the things I don’t like so much.
So when it came to choosing subjects for school, I chose triple science over art, because it was the “hardest” and it was “the path” to medicine. By then, I’ve become so good at lying about who I’d wanted to be and what I’d wanted to do, that even I believed that I was going to be some white-collared professional earning big fat paychecks when I grow up.
And then “I Believe That Dreams Can Come True” happened
And then we got sent to an English learning center in Taiwan
And then we found ourselves surrounded by kids who have no fears
No concepts of failure, of impossibilities, of “political correctness”
Kids who’d openly, truthfully, authentically share their dreams
In a room full of adults (their teachers and their parents)
In front of 2 strangers they’ve just met
In front of the camera
Forget about the all-inspiring
“What if you could let yourself dream like a kid?”
Like a kid who truly believed that
We can do anything
We can be anyone
– I Believe That Dreams Can Come True –