From eleven years old, I told everyone I was going to live in New York City when I grew up. With absolute certainty, I assured my parents, friends, and relatives that I was getting out of this small town and heading to the big apple after college.
Last month, that dream finally had the potential to become reality. I was lucky enough to be offered a great job in New York after graduation. It was everything I thought I wanted.
However, I still felt drawn to a different company I had interned at near my hometown. The problem was, working there didn't fit into my childhood dreams. It didn't fit the story I thought I was writing for my life. It wasn't in the city I said I would move to in the field I expected to enter with the prestige I imagined I'd have.
So what do you do then? What happens when you experience something that changes your perspective? When you meet people who change your mind? When you're lucky enough to pick between everything you thought you wanted and nothing you expected to find?
If I didn't take the job in New York, was I giving up on my dreams? Was I a quitter? I felt bound by the contracts I had made to myself and others about where I promised I'd go.
There's a narrative that our youngest selves had the noblest aspirations and if we could just live up to those, our lives would be filled with purpose and prosperity.
"Become the person that would make your younger self proud."
But the more I experience life, the less I agree. I don't value what I valued when I was eleven; hopefully, that's a good thing.
When I was in middle school, I remember envying Elizabeth Holmes for being the world's youngest female self-made billionaire. At the time I looked up to her, she was still the darling of Silicon Valley. Now, she's the notorious founder of disgraced startup Theranos which is under investigation for massive fraud.
The person I once wanted to be like is now under trial for fraud and conspiracy.
There's an entrepreneurial cliche, "strong opinions, loosely held." Make big bets, take a stance, but be quick to change your mind when new information comes to light.
Maybe it's ok to apply the same thinking to dreams. Sincere dreams, loosely considered.
The same girl who wanted to be like Elizabeth Holmes is the same girl who wanted to move to New York City. In both cases, new information came to light that upended those dreams.
I've realized it's not bad to want to fulfill childhood fantasies, but they don't have to be the definitive roadmap for your life.
If you need permission to change your mind, here it is. You are not beholden to your ten-year-old self's vision of success.
The world will change, you will change, and you will have experiences that change the trajectory of your life. In light of that, don't be afraid to let go of outdated ambitions.
Back to that "dream" job... I won't be taking it. Instead, I'll be returning to the company in the place I once sought to escape but now know I belong: home.