I’ve been thinking lately about all the messages I received as a child, all the things society wanted us to believe that never felt totally right to me, yet I accepted them. Why?
For example, when I was a kid, my mom loved the Doris Day song, “Que Sera Sera.” In the lyrics, the young girl asks her mother what the future holds. Will she be pretty or will she be rich? (I know that sounds a bit shallow now, but go with me). The mother responds, “Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be.”
There’s another version of the song I liked a little better, in which the girl asks her teacher what she should try. Should she paint pictures or sing songs? The teacher tells her the same thing, “Que sera, sera.” Part of my young heart was always thinking, “Why can’t she do both? Why does she have to choose between the two? If she wants something, why can’t she just make it happen? Why isn’t her teacher encouraging her to follow her dreams rather than saying, ‘Sure honey, you might be good at those things, you might even be ambitious, but it’s not really up to you whether you succeed or get what you want. It’s up to the whims of the future.’” And why did I believe that, too, just because my mother loved that song?
An expression like that really lets us off the hook, doesn’t it? Any time we fail (even if we didn’t really try) we can comfort ourselves by saying, “It wasn’t meant to be.” And other people can offer that phrase as comfort to us, because what else can they say when we’re hurting?
What if instead of telling the child in the song her hopes were only hopes, the teacher had said, “Whatever you will, will be?” How might that have changed things? Would the child have then thrown herself into becoming the best painter or singer (or both) will full confidence and no back-of-the-mind fear that what she wanted most might be taken from her? What if every time something went wrong for our kids, we didn’t say, “Well, at least you tried,” and instead we said, “You’re doing it! You’re living your dream. Keep going.”
For a while, I tried telling myself, “It wasn’t meant to be yet.” It felt far less defeatist and a bit more evolved to phrase it that way. I was proud of that thinking. But that’s also surrendering.
Now I’m telling myself, “It is now. I am living my childhood dreams. I am that girl who grew up to be both a painter and a singer (figuratively), and I’m doing it well. I haven’t reached all my goals yet, but I’m moving toward them. Always. Every day. And that’s success. The journey, the effort, the learning, the growing, the living. This is my bright shiny future. Right now. And tomorrow, if I want it to be. And the day after. The future doesn’t choose when/if I stop. Only I do. Therefore, whatever I will, will be. What do you choose?
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