As soon as you step into a class room the elders about you begin to question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This may even be the first question your teacher will ask you on your first day. At about the age of seven you may not have faintest idea that there is even such a consideration [growing up?]
Soon, you discover that what the elders refer to are daytime occupations that they busy themselves with when not in the home. In the company of elders you begin to understand that there are certain coveted daytime occupations such as being a Doctor or a Lawyer as they bring with them promises of prestige and the comfort of a relatively good life. So you pick a dream∙ any dream. Anything that will please the elders so they can leave you to your childhood imaginings.
In years that follow, many amongst us begin to personify these dreams, either by word or by deed and the elders will pronounce, “my son will be a lawyer, he talks too much”; and by virtue of this association, we might even begin to align ourselves to this dream. There are those of us who will develop dreams of our own, and there are those of us that will have these dreams bestowed unto them [these ideas of who or what we may become]. But a time does come when we become originators of our own dreams, and we develop a kind of ownership thereof (by “ownership” I refer to possession).
Once you have been possessed by a dream, you are so consumed by it that whatever requirements toward the fulfilment of that dream, you are willing to endure. Endurance is how we measure our progress toward dream fulfilment. You know that you have the mental fortitude and physical stamina that will guide toward the attainment of your dream.
There may be some who might contribute monetarily toward this dream (perhaps your parents who might pay for your tertiary education), and there may be some who may contribute their time to ensuring your continued aspiration and inspiration (be it teachers or mentors); and you know not to disappoint these contributors, so you work toward a return to their investment. There will also be a need for your own personal investment∙ for this dream is yours and not that of others; and you understand that in order to achieve it you will need to put your nose to the books and grease the elbow to achieve it. You know and understand your investment in years: degree = 4 years, diploma = 3 years, and you even know how many years thereafter it will take you to:
- Get in work experience
- Purchase your first car
- Rent your first flat
Milestones by which you would measure whether you have arrived at the dream destination.
We live in times when dreams are associated with rock stardom. We witness dreams fulfilled on Television on a daily basis and have learnt that dreams of “making a life” are achieved by a Reality TV crew and the perceived wealth of branded apparel and the number of BBM contacts. But what are we measuring here? And how do we assess its growth?
We are often confronted with a youth that live in a depressed state. This is a youth whose dreams of a life include a plan to “be discovered” as the next “so and so” who dropped out of school after six months because his dreams were bigger than school, and he didn’t really need school because he’s living in a townhouse in Fourways and he drives a Hummer SUV, has a reality show on TV, and his last two girlfriends were models, and he has 20000 twitter followers....
I live in a world where "depression" is a word used to describe apathy and a lack of aspiration. I lose interest in the suicides of a youth that was too overwhelmed by the amount of work school required and how little money they are provided by their parents, when all they have to do is pick up a book and get some knowledge.
The greatest minds of our generation are not considered rockstars by the populous, but they live their dreams on a daily basis, consumed by a fire to achieve knowledge and enrich their knowledge disciplines by contributing to a pool of knowledge.
Perhaps the elders should advance that question to, “who do you want to be when you grow up?” Where do you see yourself situated in the world of knowledge?
Photographer / Khumbelo Makungo