Why, when asked, “What do you want to do or be when you grow up,” do so many young people respond with, “I don’t know”?
Because we don’t. A lot of us want the pipe dream, but because we don’t think it will happen we don’t say. Like, I know a kid that really wants to be a basketball player, but he won’t say it because people say “Do you know how many people want to be basketball players; it’s not gonna happen for all of you.”
We don’t say “artist” or “photographer” because folks say you won’t get paid for it. But the world is changing. There are so many things we can do nowadays. And you CAN get paid to do those things; most just don’t know it.
I’m good at a lot, so I don’t know. Us, kids today, we’re just talented. There are so many options.
Lesson in Youth Development
Be supportive of kids' dreams. Every dream. If you think a child will not be successful as an NBA player, but they love basketball, encourage their passion for the game. Expose them to the many careers affiliated with the sport. That way, if they ever get to a point where their lack of skill becomes overwhelmingly apparent, they won't feel that they have to redirect their love to something outside of the game. It can be channeled.
And as Nyree so aptly put it, "you CAN get paid [as an artist]; most just don’t know it." Which is why Jamilah Seifullah and I created The Stoop - to introduce Brooklyn junior high and high school students to successful creative professionals.
*Ask Nyree is a weekly response to the questions you always wanted answered by a teen.