I've been reading a lot lately about the pressures put on today's girls to be the all-around perfect teen: get the best grades, excel in sports or arts, and look like a runway model while doing it all. Since I design clothes for girls that are positive and inspiring, I'm always telling girls to "Dream Big," encouraging them to set their goals high and try their best to reach them. Today I'd like to emphasize the importance of "Dreaming Little" too.
When I was a teen, my dream was to become a novelist. I graduated high school and went on to study journalism in college, feeling that so many of my author heroes began as journalists, that if I followed in their footsteps and did well, I'd become a novelist too.
After college, I moved to New York City, got a job in broadcast journalism, and on the side wrote a novel. I spent two years working on a historical fiction novel set in the 1930's Florida Keys around the time of a real-life disasterous hurricane that took place there. I even went to the Keys and interviewed long-time residents and local experts to make my story authentic. And after two years of toiling over it, I began to edit and discovered that...it was baaaaaadddddd. Really, truly, genuinely unpublishable. Sure it had some good parts. Some of the characters were good. In some parts the writing worked well. I thought the premise was a good one (still do), but overall, it didn't come together. Afterward, I tried writing and submitting many short stories, poems, plays -- you name it. In came rejection after rejection. I was a capable writer, but not an outstanding one. Maybe years from now I'll be able to write and publish a good novel -- but most likely not. I know that now and accept it.
So then what? I had kept my day job, thank goodness, so I wasn't a starving artist. I pursued my passion of sailing. I met a great guy and married him, and we both achieved our dream of having a family. And now I've started a business, which is another dream of mine. These last few dreams are ones many people share. They're pretty common. I call them little dreams. They won't bring fame and fortune, but they bring me a great deal of happiness.
And that's my point. As my daughter grows, I will continue to encourage her to follow her dreams, as grand as they may be. I will do whatever she needs me to do to help her achieve them. But I also will teach her about the importance of having little dreams too. Actually, to have many dreams -- as many dreams as she can! If all of them come true--wonderful! But if some of the big ones (or little ones) don't, then that's okay. Accept it, and move on to making another dream come true. Just as long as she has some dreams and can realize some of them, then I think she'll be okay. And I think that's an important point to make for girls (and boys) everywhere. Only a few of the thousands of school-age athletes or actors or artists ever go on to become professionals. But that's okay. Just because you don't play professional soccer doesn't mean you can't play soccer at all and enjoy it. And if we teach girls to have many dreams -- big, medium-sized and little -- then we'll teach them to rebound from the hard knocks in life and still be happy.
'Til next time,