Bonus Post: You Can Do Anything

“You can be anything you want when you grow up!”

Schoolchildren across America hear these words from day one of Kindergarten. It is ingrained in our young minds that anyone can literally be anything. Firefighters, police officers, teachers, doctors, presidents. “You can be anything.”

To be perfectly honest, I have some contrasting feelings on this indoctrination. I think that realistically, there are certain professions where it is statistically *virtually* impossible to make a viable living without certain innate characteristics. Like, a 5 foot tall person wanting to be an NBA star. Impossible? Technically not (just look at Muggsy Bogues!). But very very very unlikely? Yep.

However, for the vast majority of professions out there, I do really and truly (naively, perhaps?) believe that people can achieve what they set their minds to if they work long and hard enough for it. Setbacks  may abound, sometimes unfair setbacks such as bigotry on the part of others, or economic disadvantages. And maybe you won’t get the *exact* career you dreamed of as a kid, but with perseverance I believe you will at least get very close.

I say all of this as an introduction to my main point here. Donald Trump winning the presidency of the United States is a lot of things – shocking, to say the very least – but if anything it is a very real example of this ‘you can do anything’ mantra.

I say this in a Stephen Colbert-esque type of dark satire, but if an unabashedly racist, sexist, xenophobic, fear-mongering, thin-skinned, neo-fascist narcissist can fight his way to the White House, then by God I now believe I can do ANYTHING.

president

Laugh all you want – it is funny, in a dark and serious way. But last night’s tumultuous news was a real wake up call for me on a personal level. I will admit, I have struggled with self doubt and insecurity for much of my life. Sure, there are some things I feel a modicum of confidence in — I’m good at math, I’m a decent runner, I bake a mean peanut butter cookie. I even used to do be able to do latte art in my barista days! 😉

But, seriously though, I spend so damn much of my mental energy truly and wholly doubting my abilities to achieve my bucket list dreams. “In my dreams I’d actually finally all the damn comics and stories I’ve started and I’d be a panelist at SDCC one day .. yeah right! I’m creative, but not THAT creative. I can draw, but not THAT well. I can write, but not THAT well. I might as well keep that as a pipe dream.” Or how about my pipe dream to be like Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman) one day and have a successful blog that actually makes me enough money to do it as a living. Who knows, maybe one day people would be clamoring for my recipes!

For so long I have pined for those things but deep down bought into the lie that they’re impossible for people like me. Little people who aren’t natural supermodels or billionaires or very well networked living in the middle of New York City or LA.

But really, who are ‘people like me,’ if not people who are also capable of becoming the Joss Whedons or Ree Drummonds of the world?

So, Trump won this thing. Trump, with his laundry list of objectionable quotes and actions and beliefs, HE won this thing. (Please don’t take this as a political statement – I was ardently anti-Hillary as well.)

My point is, seeing someone with such unfit character achieving his goal really lit my fire over night. Maybe this precipitous moment in our world’s history will at least have the small, humble effect in my little life that I will finally start believing I can be what I want to be when I grow up.

Until next time,

xoxo Charlotte

photo credit: https://lolzombie.com/12178/anyone-can-be-president/

 

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7 comments

  1. I think about myself much the way you do about yourself it seems. Husband just recently told me to “stop it” because he says I can do anything and I am so good at so many things, he says – yet I completely lack the confidence a lot of the time… We aren’t the epitome of narcissism as is Mr Trump… (and it truely makes me want to vomit that he won such a position.) To me this proves that money is everything, especially when it comes to the higher levels… and that’s sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do agree that money has SO much to do with people gaining certain positions in life, especially when it comes to politics and perhaps the media/entertainment as well. That said, I like to think there is hope for those of us little guys too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I’ll say this…I’m a better writer than Trump will be a president, but I don’t think that says much. Haha.

    I think the statement “you can be whatever you want to be” is a veiled form of pro-schooling propaganda. Because children are impressionable, they really will believe they can be the first human to land on the rings of Saturn or learn to fly without the aid of machinery with words like that ringing in their ears. “Work hard enough at school and you can achieve anything”. Then the reality of life kicks in once school is done with and you realise that a depressingly low percentage of people actually go on to achieve their dreams. Is it because they didn’t work hard enough? Did they dream too big? Or was that initial statement, that veiled form of propaganda, a bit of a fib?

    In theory, everybody can be what they want to be. In practice, they likely won’t unless they keep their dreams modest. A person can’t physically land on the rings of Saturn. A person isn’t genetically designed to fly without mechanical aids. We CAN’T be anything we want. The statement is false. It’s a way of tricking people into believing school is something amazing that we can’t do without, when in reality it’s pretty much a big waste of time. I didn’t learn anything of what I wanted to learn in school with the exception of maths and English, and even the latter I’ve forgotten most of (you only need to see my grammatical errors to realise that). I started learning the moment I left education. that was the time I could start to learn what I physically wanted to learn about and not what I was getting told I should learn. My dream is to be a published author. I CAN achieve that dream, but only because it’s realistic. I suppose anybody could become the president of the United States, but they would need to become educated in politics or they might need the money behind them that Trump was fortunate enough to have first. Would Trump have had even a whiff of a chance without that money? We both know the answer to that.

    So, can somebody be whatever they want to be? It totally depends on what it is you want and in what position you happened to be born I guess. Thank you for providing me a soapbox to perch upon and shout. Great post, Charlotte 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • And thank you so much for perching on the soapbox! I really, really love having great conversations like these.

      To be honest, I had never thought of the words ‘school’ and ‘propaganda’ in the same sentence, so I appreciate you sharing a perspective that is new to me. In your perspective, do you think this propaganda is on the part of the schools themselves, or do you see it as being a cultural phenomenon among parents and guardians as well?

      As for the statement that “you can be/do anything” being a lie, I think you really hit the nail on the head with what makes my feelings about it so conflicted. On the one hand, my inclination is to counter that I think having confidence is key, and so believing in a (false?) statement may have a bit of a placebo affect. A bit like Dumbo thinking he needed that red feather to fly, when in fact the feather was a lie, a placebo the whole time, and all he needed was perseverance and confidence. On the other hand, I wholly agree that in the real world there are just so many ways in which the “you can do/be anything” indoctrination is false. Like with my basketball example. My husband (a big basketball lover) talks about this all the time. He’s short by basketball standards (only 5’9″), so realistically he never, ever had a shot at university or pro basketball. As for becoming president, I think hearing the statement applied to that particular goal is my biggest pet peeve in this area. Yes, *technically* a vast majority of US citizens are legally eligible, but realistically it is virtually impossible if you are not some combination of A) wealthy, B) born into a political dynasty, C) Ivy league lawyer living in a large metro area. So it does really grind my gears when I hear small children being continually told “you can be president!” Then again, telling young children they can become doctors or scientists or writers or fashion designers — I think all of these are achievable goals if there is perseverance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agree wholeheartedly on the placebo effect and I think people very likely have achieved things simply just because they believed they could. So yes; I think urging children in the right direction and telling them they can be real winners in life is a good thing to do, but I think it should perhaps be more diluted in a fashion as not to lead to eventual disappointment. That is to say dream big, but don’t dream impossible/massively improbable. An element of keeping one’s feet on the ground is quite essential I feel.
        Overall, I’m suspicious of anything that’s a term bandied around a lot and screams of over the top positivity. “You can be/do whatever you want” sounds more a governmental kind of statement because they’re the ones who want everybody in education and to be taught to depend on the system. Teachers themselves can’t really be blamed as their intentions are honourable. When they’re teaching these kids this selective crap that only serves to make their homeland look great and blameless in every detail, they’re only doing what they’re told and they don’t see how damaging it potentially is. To them, they’re just educating children and earning a wage without realising they’re blindly enforcing the will of the government who want everybody to fall in line. I don’t trust governments at all and I think they’re out to oppress us all, so maybe my belief that the statement “you can be/do whatever you want” is propaganda might well be me and my distrusting nature shining through. But maybe, just maybe, I’m right…

        Liked by 1 person

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