By: Katie Ponce I Aug. 5, 2015
Growing up, my aspirations ranged from wanting to be a singer on Broadway, to a professional dancer at basketball games, or of course a professional soccer player. At a young age it all seemed possible, and of course as a little girl, it was more than encouraging to have all of these dreams.
The inspiration for this week’s conversation again all started at a Breakers’ summer camp. If you sign up for a Breakers’ summer camp, it also includes meeting at least one of the girls from the professional team. On the last day of camp, campers get a Q&A session with a player, ending with getting a free, signed T-shirt. During this time every week, almost every kid at camp admits they want to a professional soccer player. As coaches, we all smile and encourage the kids to raise their hands at such a beautiful dream to have. This is also the part of camp were we make the weekly joke as coaches of how bad we still all want to be professional soccer players when we grow up.
Camp last week would be no different as we were joined by four girls from the Boston Breakers. The girls were answering questions about their favorite parts of being professionals and how they all found their way to become one of the Breakers. At the end of all the questions, like every week, the coaches asked all the campers who wanted to be professional soccer players to raise their hands. However, when the weekly remark about how all the coaches wanted the same thing was said, an eight-year-old boy in the front row innocently shouted out to the oldest coach, ‘you’re too old to still want be a professional soccer player.’
The crowd roared with laughter, and once our shock was over, even the coaches joined in. A few minutes later, I found myself justifying that being a few years younger made my dreams more realistic, more obtainable. But why? Without dipping into the real chances of my professional soccer career, why is it that even an eight-year-old sees it more possible for me to follow my dreams than someone five years older than me. Does following your dreams have an age limit?
Undoubtedly, we all recognize that there is an age limit of when it’s no longer cute to ask someone what they want to be when they grow up. There is also definitely an age when society expects or even demands us to start being practical in our career paths in order for us to be taken seriously. As a recent college graduate with no solid plan moving forward for my future, I feel embarrassed to tell people I don’t know exactly what I will be doing next. Instantly, I feel judged, and I constantly find myself trying to make up for my lack of short-term plans with a practical timeline that does a better job of putting everyone who asks me at ease. However, I didn’t know that even an eight-year-old could notice when it was time for me to be a grown up. The problem is in the question. While now the first thing I am asked after my name is, “what do you do,” it once was “what do you want to do when you grow up?”
“Because the expected answer to this question, [What do you want to do when you grow up?], is always a type of job, it reinforces the idea that the way to find identity and value is through career. Our society is already saturated with messages that the title on your business card is directly connected to your worth as a human being. When kids are bombarded by the questions about which job they’ll eventually hold, it trains them to view adult life through the lens of their place in the workforce.” (Fulwiler, 2012).
No wonder I feel like I need to justify my life decisions, when by age six I believed what I did meant who I was. The sadder part of it all though is as an aspiring professional athlete, and current coach, I spent my entire day around what I love most. So shouldn’t that define me as admirable, not the college graduate who avoids the ‘real world’.
The way I see it is the work place will always be there. I’m not naïve and still holding onto my dreams of singing on Broadway, but there are still a lot of things I want to do when I grow up. The way I’m spending my summer is not how I plan to spend my life and I definitely don’t want it to be the definition of who I am. The definition of who I am should be based off my words and, or my actions.
So maybe we do stop asking kids what they want to do when they grow. I think the right question is who they want to be. The eight-year old who tells me they just want to be happy when they grow up, or they just want to be a good person; that’s the kid that I think has it all figured out.
(Boston Breaker Chanel Johnson on World Cup Day at Breakers’ Camp)
If you like what you read about the Breakers’ summer camps, you can still sign up for the remaining ones this summer near you. The Boston Breakers will also be playing at Harvard this Saturday for their final home game of the season. Tickets are still on sale as they take on the Washington Spirit at 7 P.M. And as always make sure you are joining the #BreakersExperience by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Fulwiler, J. (2012, February 29). Let's Stop Asking Kids What They Want to Be When They Grow Up
[Blog post]. Retrieved from National Catholic Register website: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/