A time on a clock, a four-leaf clover, a candle on a cake, a star in the sky. The list of things we wished on as children is endless.
The act of wishing is simple, maybe even innate. It’s not about religion, a belief in a higher power, or even a trust in fate. It’s part of our culture and part of our being. Wishing stems from the innocence of infancy, from the blind hope of children, the gullibility of youth. Wishing is the belief that petals on a flower will really tell us if that cute boy from math loves us or loves us not. And wishing is where our wildest dreams are born.
As I find myself at an age that Britney Spears so perfectly sang about – I’m not a girl, not yet a woman – an age where I cringe at the word adult but insist on being treated like one, I find myself wishing less and less. Gone are the nights of sleeping with my pajamas inside out, thinking a simple wardrobe change would dictate the next day’s weather. Have I grown out of wishing?
I often joke that I, along with many other millennial women, were raised on Disney movies and Nicholas Sparks novels. We were taught from a young age to believe in Prince Charming and the happily ever after that comes with him. Ariel wished for legs, Cinderella a ball, Anna for companionship. As we watched princess after princess fall in love, we learned the power of wishing. Write Disney off as simply a (billion dollar) franchise if you must, but before you do so, consider this: for a generation filled with those who insisted on dressing up as Cinderella for Halloween four years in a row, what impact has wishing had on us? Has it made us dreamers (in the most positive sense of the word), or is the result a lazy and entitled generation of 20-somethings?
If we wish, does that mean we refuse to act? Yes, each year when I blow out the ever-increasing number of candles on my birthday cake, I can close my eyes and silently wish to be a ballerina, an astronaut, or the next editor-in-chief of Seventeen (my secrets out). I can wish to be whatever I want, but I know that wishing isn’t the same as achieving. And achieving is impossible without determination, passion, and hard work.
But wishing hasn’t made us complacent. We don’t rely solely on wishes and fate. What wishing has done is allowed us to take hold of our dreams. The dreams that sprung from the belief that anything can happen. The belief that a simple act, like a star streaking across the night sky, can alter the course of our lives.
So maybe, wishing isn’t such a bad thing. After all, wishing is what we did as children, isn’t it? And sometimes we need to hold on to a piece of our childhood.
Maybe, being the ‘Peter Pan Generation’ and refusing to grow up, is a quality we should strive for. I’ll gladly be labeled ‘childish’ if that means never settling for mediocre and never compromising on a dream I hold dear. Whether that dream is to be President of the United States or that true love really does exists, our ‘childish’ naivety is what keeps our dreams alive.
No, wishing does not make us the narcissistic generation our elders may claim we are. It makes us innovative, inspired and inspiring. Wishing, dreaming, makes us the future leaders of this world.
Meet The Things I Learned From Blogger, Ilana!
Ilana Fromm hails from Westchester, New York, where she was raised on Disney movies and Nicholas Sparks novels. She spent the last four years at University of Wisconsin-Madison eating her body weight in cheese curds and falling head over heels in love with the Midwest. With a bit of wanderlust, Ilana has two goals in mind for wherever life takes her next: become the next Carrie Bradshaw and conquer every brunch spot in the city of her choosing.