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8 Dreams I Had as a Kid That I've Given Up On

Did tampons ruin my Olympic swimmer dream?

By Katharine ChanPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
8 Dreams I Had as a Kid That I've Given Up On
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

When I was on maternity with my first child, the monotony of routine allowed me to rediscover my passion for writing. As a kid, I wrote stories upon stories, from true, and untrue, to never being told to.

It was a way for me to express myself by making those irrational thoughts into concise words and sentences, especially during that rollercoaster journey of becoming a new mother.

This rediscovery has sparked a career shift, aspiring me to become a writer, a dream I never thought I would pursue. So I started thinking about what other dreams I had as a kid and whether any of them would be something I'd like to pursue today.

So here is a list of 8 dreams I had as a kid that I've given up on and why.

1. Competitive swimmer

My first dream career was to be a competitive swimmer who makes it to the Olympics.

I started swimming before I had memories. As a kid, I loved the water and I still do. I could play in the pool for hours and never get tired as my skin looked like one of those wrinkly, hairless Sphynx cats.

When I was around 10, my swimming instructor saw potential in me. She said I was good enough to be on the local competitive team. I was fast. Plus, I had the physique, broad shoulders and naturally muscular physique without the bulk.

I thought it would be cool so I talked to a few girls who had been swimming competitively for a few years.

What I found out is that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to fully commit: early practices before school, swim meets after school, weekend competitions away from home, less time spent on other extracurricular activities…and a bunch of other things that deterred me.

And my mom was the straw that broke the camel's back. She told me that when I do start menstruating, I won't be able to swim since tampons "aren't good for me."

So, I declined.

2. Lifeguard/Swim Instructor

What's the next best thing I could do?

After making that decision, I said to myself that instead of competing, I could teach people how to swim. But when I finished my swim training to become an instructor and lifeguard, my interest began to fade as I was entering my teenage years.

3. Archaeologist

This one was short-lived but intense. In the summer before starting high school, I watched The Mummy. I got seriously into Ancient Egyptian history. I took it upon myself to research online and at the library about Pharaohs, pyramids, temples, gods and goddesses and even the mummification process.

I remember hearing someone say that becoming an archaeologist doesn't mean I'll get to be Indiana Jones and excavate around the world. Most likely, I'd be categorizing rocks and fossils and doing a ton of data collection, not making exciting discoveries and finding new and/or lost civilizations. As a fickle young teenager, I switched interests quickly.

4. Reporter

There was this one time in school when we had to do a book report and present it in front of the class. I was practicing with friends and I held my paper in front of me and started rehearsing. One of my friends said, "You sound just like a reporter." And for a brief month or two, I thought I wanted to be a reporter.

Then I completely forgot about it. Now upon reflecting, I'm not a news follower so that definitely wasn't going to work out for me.

5. Actor

I think everyone dreams of becoming a famous actor. As a kid, I loved watching movies. And I still do.

But starring in a movie is very different than watching one. I'm too self-conscious and private to put myself out there like that. Plus, I don't have the grit to do it, facing rejection time and time again after each audition.

6. Professional Pianist

I started learning to play the piano around 5 or 6 years old. I certainly spent the 10000 hours to master it, weekly lessons with my private teacher and hours upon hours of practice. Give me a piece of music and I'll play it decently.

So there was a point in time when I dreamt of becoming a professional pianist with the audacious goal of performing at Carnegie Hall.

But to be honest, I'm good but not that good. I have talent but not a deep enough passion to carry through the long hours of dedication and practice. I won competitions and some awards but there were always other students younger, more talented and more disciplined than me.

7. Piano Teacher

So again, what's the next best thing?


I taught piano to a couple of kids in the neighbourhood for a year after high school. It was an okay experience.

The kids were cute but I needed a ton of patience to encourage them to practice and a bucketload of enthusiasm to make it fun and interesting. Stickers, stamps and dollar store toys only go so far.

8. School Teacher

Then there was a brief moment in Grade 12 when I was thinking about what I could do in my life. I considered becoming a high school teacher. I observed the teachers around me and thought, "Hmmm…maybe I could do what they do?"

But that dream slipped my mind as soon as I realized how much I wanted to graduate.

Why would I want to have a career within an institution I had dreadful memories of?

Even though I academically excelled, I hated school, the formalities, forced socialization and the rigid structure.

Reflecting on this decision now, I actually don't like kids. I love my own kids but teaching others is a bit of a nightmare. I have the utmost respect for teachers.

At the end of the day, dreams are meant to inspire and give us hope, not to serve as our purpose or existence. Knowing what you don't want to do in life is just as important as knowing what you do.

So Readers, what are some dreams you've given up on?

This was originally published on October 21, 2021.

Need help processing emotions and writing down your thoughts? Check out my 60 Feelings to Feel: A Journal To Identify Your Emotions

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About the Creator

Katharine Chan

Sum (心, ♡) on Sleeve | Author. Speaker. Wife. Mom of 2 | Embrace Culture. Love Yourself. Improve Relationships | Empowering you to talk about your feelings despite growing up in a culture that hid them |

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  • Gal Mux2 years ago

    All Wonderful dreams. We can't be everything... As long as we find happiness in what we eventually become...

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