We have all had teachers, parents or someone off the television tell us
You can do anything if you try hard enough
or something to that effect.
However, in reality, sometimes you just have to be realistic, accept what you have and just give up. Meaningless phrases such as the above have been drilled into some of us from primary school and the insistence of using such messages from childhood could end up having a negative effect rather than a positive one in later life.
Lets face it, at some point or another we are going to fail. Be it academically, in our relationships or at work, we are all going to fall flat on our face. Yes, of course we should pick ourselves up again and move on but should we necessarily pursue the same goal, as the above phrase suggests, or should we go in a different direction? Try something new?
During my A-levels I convinced myself that I could be a Formula One race engineer. I thought that surely if I worked hard enough, I could do it, because it was my dream. However, when I started Aerospace Engineering at Southampton in 2011, I soon realised that this was not going to be the case. I found the course extremely difficult and I didn’t find it as interesting as I thought I would.
I started to understand fully that some people are just better at certain subjects, sports and careers than others and we just have to deal with it. There is a limit to what we can learn, however hard we may try. You could spend all your time working to understand something, just to be as good at it as someone who understood it straight away, but soon this becomes very tiring and frustrating. Being in a class full of people who understand something that you do not can sometimes make you feel like the stupidest person in the world.
I decided to transfer to the History course (cue insults from scientists) while in semester two of engineering and was advised to continue the year at university in order to gain a qualification in the subject. However, despite my hard work, I ended up failing first year. My friends and family were slightly disappointed. They had had such high expectations. I, on the other hand, have just started my new course this year and am loving it.
In researching some motivational posters used in schools, I found many were encouraging children to pursue unrealistic goals such as
You really can change the world if you care enough
It’s never too late to be what might have been
But is this really what children and teenagers should be taught? It sets us up for high expectations for the future and also puts us under pressure from teachers, peers and parents who seemingly expect us to achieve our goals. Therefore, if it turns out that our dream is unreachable, we may feel as though we have let people down.
We are also fed lines such as these as adults in the media. For Someone, Somewhere these phrases could apply. We often read in the newspapers about Someone, Somewhere who came from complete obscurity to achieve their seemingly impossible dream. Reading such stories can give us false hope in achieving an unrealistic goal and when we fail, we can be left cripplingly disappointed. In reality, this is not how life pans out for most of us. The aspiring astronauts, journalists and professional athletes that we knew at school or uni will end up becoming chemists, teachers and physio’s because they just weren’t quite good enough. But does this mean that they have failed, that they have let down their seventeen-year-old selves?
Of course I understand that we all need motivation to achieve our goals, especially as children. However I don’t think we should be made to feel like failures, just because our dreams never came true or we didn’t achieve everything we wanted to when we were seventeen. If we hit a brick wall and life doesn’t take the path we originally intended, we shouldn’t dwell on our failed childhood dreams but simply disregard them and move on.