Hidden in a box beneath my fifth grade Swiss Country Report, glitter-bathed portraits of my past selves, and torn corners of age-old tests and quizzes, lies my kindergarten yearbook. The laminated, ribbon-bound pages hold memories of the faces I have known and the Maritime Aquarium jellies I have jiggled. As I dig up this treasure and reminisce, taking in each page with a new appreciation, I am struck by the one entitled “Where will we be in 20 years?” As a five-year-old, my future plans included being “The President, but one who also writes books, bakes cupcakes, and plays dress up.” I was not alone; my classmates projected equally ambitious professions. From “cancer doctor” to “gardener on Mars,” each held a similar sentiment — we wanted to change the world.
But the desire to do and be anything seemed to wane with the quantity of princess lunch boxes and light-up sneakers. When we’re young, our world seems conquerable and teeming with possibilities. But then we get older, becoming disillusioned with every consecutive reality check, and oftentimes lose the desire to follow these far-fetched dreams. After all, we’re one person, we’re not that special, and we should leave all the ground-breaking, world-altering actions to someone much older and wiser — right? Our teachers, coaches, instructors and parents instill a practicality that, arguably, will prepare us for success in the “real world.” Unfortunately, this mindset can also stifle the wishful thinking of a five-year-old’s imagination, and a teenager's bold aspirations can be sidelined by the quadratic formula and college acceptance rates.