Becoming Potential – Your Path, Your Choice

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a link to a blog post from Princess Awesome entitled  “Stop Telling Kids They Can Be Anything,” which caught my eye. I wondered what the heck that meant—are we supposed to stop encouraging kids? Well, no. Princess Awesome suggests that instead of telling kids “You can be anything,” we should say, “You can choose your path.” This option takes the pressure off of kids by eliminating any need to be something (and only one thing) for the rest of their lives.

That simple suggestion absolutely floored me—and the idea has stuck with me ever since. I can’t help but ask myself some questions:

  1. How might my outlook on life differ, and how much farther might I have gotten, if someone had told me as a kid that I could choose my path? What would I have learned or done differently?
  2. Why on Earth don’t we tell this to adults, too?


I’m one of those people who feels like a late bloomer. I have watched, with no small amount of jealousy and perplexity, as my high school compatriots went off to college knowing exactly what they wanted to do with their lives, and then proceeded to do it. A good friend of mine wanted to go into sports management, and has now worked for our state’s major-league baseball team for several years. Another friend went to MIT and got into aerospace engineering. A former classmate moved to LA and became a model and a singer. But unlike them, I never felt that I knew what I wanted to be, much less how to become it.

Roughly eight years ago, during my first go-round through college, I visited my school’s career counseling center to see if someone could help me figure out what to do with my major. When I had applied for colleges, I’d known with absolute certainty that I wanted to major in writing (even though I had no idea how to turn that into a career), because I loved writing and I wanted to become a better writer. By the time I visited that career counselor, I had learned a lot about the art of writing, but I still had one problem: I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my major once I graduated from college. I hoped the career counseling center could help me figure out which direction to take.

Instead, the counselor dropped a list of possible careers for English majors in my lap and sent me home to look it over and see if any of them looked interesting. This list consisted of multiple pages of job titles, in a twelve-point font, with at least three columns to a page, and provided so many options that I never even read all of them, much less pursued any of them. I had run into the same problem Princess Awesome identified: with an English major, I could theoretically be anything, but knowing that I had endless career possibilities didn’t help me to actually pick a career!

At that point, I didn’t need to hear that I had possibilities. I already knew that. Instead, I needed to learn how to narrow my possibilities down to a more manageable selection. I needed help choosing my path.

Fast forward a few years. When Adam (our very own Curious Bystander) first mentioned the idea of Protagonist, I knew I wanted to get involved. I had no idea how, and I had no experience with entrepreneurship, but when he accepted my offer of editing support, I felt for the first time like I had the opportunity to chose my path. Committing to that choice felt scary, but I wasn’t choosing something as monumental as a career, and nothing decrees that I have to follow this path all the way to the end. At no point did I choose what I’m going to “be” for the rest of my life. But in the face of endless possibilities, I found an opportunity, and I chose to follow it.

Ultimately, the moral of this story boils down to this: it doesn’t matter what our possibilities are. It matters what our opportunities are. Our power lies in finding one thing we can do, or not do, and then trying it. And then maybe trying something else, and seeing what happens.


To this day, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I still don’t even know all of my options. But not only is that okay—it ultimately doesn’t matter, because I don’t have to be anything, or even have a plan. I just have to keep my eye out for opportunities. And when they arise, I can choose my path.

Link to article: https://princess-awesome.com/blogs/news/stop-telling-kids-they-can-be-anything

 

Posted by Calligraphie

I report from the trenches—I'm in the middle of my own journey to become the hero my life deserves. I feel I can best help others with their struggles and victories by writing about my own. None of us is alone! I love to hear from you. Drop me a line at calligraphie@protagonist.life or reach out to the team at hello@protagonist.life!