Usually, when you ask a child what they want to be when they’re older, they have high goals and answer with confidence without fear.
Astronauts, doctors, video game developers, a princess, car-wash owners (this was my childhood dream).
But then as we get older, so many people give up their dreams and accept mediocrity. In many cases it’s not because they don’t have what it takes; they never even try so how would they know? So many give up before they put in any real effort. Of course, not everyone has the resources or circumstances to pursue their dream. I’m talking about the people who DO and choose to take the boring, safe road that they know will lead to unhappiness.
What causes this transition between over-achiever to someone who just settles?
Confidence – Kid’s have a strong sense of adventure and are very creative-minded. They’re generally very optimistic and willing to reach for the stars because they haven’t been taught to fear criticism or failure. When a kid fails, when he falls and scrapes his knee, he’ll just get up and keep going. He’s not afraid to run because he’s fallen before. He’ll readjust and learn and be more careful next time.
It’s as the kid gets older that his confidence in his abilities decreases. When he starts going to school and is penalized for being too creative and not sticking to the strict essay outline for his Creative Writing class. Or he’s forced to keep all his questions to himself during the lesson because it’s ‘disruptive’ to the other students, killing curiosity. We turn on the news and see nothing but negativity and fear-mongering suppressing the adventurer in us.
We’re taught to memorize and focus on small details instead of the big picture. Math and science are considered top priority while music, painting, theater are at the bottom. We’re judged by our GPAs, which don’t take into account creativity, curiosity, morality or a true understanding of the world.
Most people transition from right-minded creative children, to left-minded analytical adults by the time they finish school. When you stop using your creative mind, you also lose your ability to imagine. Without imagination you’re walking through the dark with a dim lantern and an outdated map. That’s why people with depression are advised to paint or find a creative hobby, so that they can better imagine and visualize a brighter future, giving them motivation and a sense of purpose. Also, creative hobbies help us relax and cease thinking, an underrated but powerful skill.
Analytical people with no creativity, are generally about risk-avoidance and choose to stay in their comfort zone. They’re not very adventurous or open to new things.
The world’s most successful people didn’t get to where they are because they had a 4.0 GPA or because they did well on tests. In fact, most of them would’ve been considered dumb or average by much of the world. Shakespeare would’ve failed a modern day English class for making up words and coming up with his own formats of writing!
It’s the people who maintain their child-like, creative mindset that break out of mediocrity. It’s the visionaries and thinkers. The people most of society would considered crazy because they’re different. The one’s with the mental strength to ignore social pressure and do what’s best for them instead of trying to fit in and be average. That’s why everyone knows Steve Jobs but few people know Steve Wozniak.
Start reading books that expand your mindset and think differently. Start drawing again to workout your creative muscles. Don’t let stress and fear reduce you to mediocrity, use it to better yourself. Have faith in yourself most of all. The more you push through resistance, the more you’ll realize how much you were limiting yourself.