Childhood Dreams

Work has been incredibly grueling this past week, leaving me mentally drained each day. It’s not that I’ve been swamped with an extraordinarily large caseload. Actually, that’s more my team’s issue as they are currently covering my caseload right now. You see, the powers-that-be in my position have selected me to be part of a group of RN’s to establish a redesign for the current work flow. Uh … yeah. Like I said, grueling.

Not that I’m excited to be part of this group … it has certainly been an eye-opening experience, and the upper-level executives have thus far been very supportive of the ideas we’ve come up with … it just has left me very, very exhausted.

Today at work, a fellow RN Case Manager shared a video clip of Dr. Ran.dy Pa.usch on the Oprah show. Now apparently this clip (along with the original lecture he gave at Carnegie Mellon University) has been downloaded over a million times on So, if you’ve already seen this clip or you’ve heard about Dr. Pausch’s “Last Lecture,” you’ll know exactly the emotions that this lecture evokes.

Let me set the scene. Ran.dy Pa.usch is a 47 year-old father of three and Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer which has since metastasized, which currently gives him no further course of treatment other than palliative care. He delivered his famous “Last Lecture” during an ongoing series of lectures where Professors at the University are given the opportunity to give a hypothetical last lecture in which to impart to their students. Obviously, this lecture, titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dream,” would be a little more realistic to him. So after watching this shortened version of this lecture on Oprah (the original is about 1+ hours long and visible on, it’s no wonder that all eleven of us in the room were just about in tears.

Watching this video had certainly got me pondering what my childhood dream was. The earliest memory I have about trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up is two-fold. One is of going to the library as early as 5-years old and picking out simple children’s books, particularly a series of books about a young girl deciding what she wanted to be when she grew up. One book was about becoming a teacher, while another was learning to be a “stewardess,” and yet another one about being … da da dadum … a nurse. (Hey, it was the late 70’s and these books were probably written in the late 60’s!) The other memory is of lining up all my stuffed animals (I was more of a plush toy kid than a doll kid) in front of our chalk board and pretending to “teach” them … all to the delight of my Grandmother (who, by the way is 97 this year) who was a primary school teacher in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, I never actually owned one ...
Unfortunately, I never actually owned one ...

But by the time I got to high school, I fancied myself wanting to go into journalism or writing of some kind. I kept journals back then and wrote constantly to my cousin in London, Ontario, whom I considered my “living diary” during that time period. I even had a book of “poems” (more like silly rants, now that I look back at it) that I thought I could turn into song lyrics of some sort. Because back then, I also fancied myself being part of a really cool alternative band. Never mind that I was only a mediocre piano player … I still wanted to be able to tour the world (probably playing my “ke.ytar” a-la Howard Jones).

Alas, those dreams faded once it came time to choose which college I wanted to go to after graduation. Because then it became a matter of “How am I going to make a living?” rather than “What do I wanna do to make my life worthwhile?” The reason it turned eventually to “making money” rather than “dreaming big” is due to the typical Asian-American way of thinking. And that’s having job security and stability.

Eventually I succumbed to pressure and chose a profession that many Filipinos choose … Nursing. That’s because it’s a career that can, not only yield a decent yearly income, but it could provide you with the ability to choose different paths within the profession (-ie- hospital setting vs. doctor’s office vs. university teaching). Looking back now, I think Nursing appealed to me mostly because of the diversity in settings and also the ability to flex my schedule when I eventually had kids.

So getting back to Ran.dy Pa.usch’s video. One of the key things he mentions is having parents that supported him with the dreams he wanted. They, in fact, were the key to allowing him to dream big and to be what he really wanted to be. And while my parents provided me with the desire to always keep learning and the discipline to work and study hard, I can’t say that I was encouraged to dream big … or to even dream “outside the box” of the typical Filipino/Asian American professions.

I’m not writing this to place any “blame” on my parents or to find an excuse for not pursue my “big dreams.” I know that my parents encouraged me to be smart, strong and independent. And they did so because their experience in starting all over in a new country taught them that security and stability in life was important.

I want to be clear here (because Mom, I know you’re reading this) … This “choosing stability over dreams” isn’t the reason for this post. Nope, really it’s going back to that video. And Randy’s parents. And his relationship with them. It’s those things that made it crystal clear to me what my childhood dream was … and that dream wasn’t necessarily to have a career that I was successful AND happy with. Rather, that dream was to grow up to be a warm, caring person who was sensitive to others’ needs … yet still be strong and independent-minded to nurture, not only herself, but others.

I think I managed to take care of the warm, caring person (at least I hope so) through my profession in Nursing. I also think I managed to remain strong and independent. The thing I’m missing is that nurturing part … particularly the nurturing as it pertains to children.

And that’s the dream that I’m still missing … to be that parent, that mother, who, not only nurtures and cares for her child, but also encourages her child to dream … and to dream big.

Okay, so that’s nothing all too revealing. Especially given what the basis of my blog is about. But watching this video … and particularly the real reason Ran.dy Pa.usch wrote this lecture, really really REALLY affected me. It was certainly something that once again pulled on my imaginary apron strings.

I encourage you all to watch the ten-minute video below and tell me what you think. What are were your childhood dreams? And are you living them now?


If you’d like to read a follow up on this post, click here!

0 Replies to “Childhood Dreams”

  1. First off, love the keytar.

    I think a lot of first-generation North Americans face similar pressures. Two close friends with parents from E. Europe had to fight tooth and nail to get their folks to understand that they could make a living doing something beside medicine and engineering. It’s hard for us long-time (and/or white) Americans to understand that pressure, but now I think I get it a tiny bit. It’s a mighty force to grapple with.

    My childhood dream was to be a writer and a singer. I do plenty of both now, and have done both professionally. In college, I wanted to be a pro performer of some kind, but in the end, my intellect wasn’t satisfied, I didn’t really like “scenes” and the hanging out required, and frankly I hated being on stage.

    I’ve chosen, after many years of exploring various options, a career that allows me to be an intellectual while still sort of helping people somewhat as a teacher. I still have my dreams, and they seem more doable, now that I’ve gotten some chips off my shoulder about having to be recognized, brilliant, paid handsomely, etc. I want to do them for me.

  2. Well, according to my blurb at the end of the wrote in 2nd grade, I wanted to be a singer. Seeing as I am slightly tone deaf, I am trying to let that one go. I think my problem was, and still is, that I want to do everything. So I end up doing nothing.

  3. I can say that you have the nurturing part down pat. I haven’t ever seen you around children (heck, I’ve never seen you period)- but I can say from my blogging experience that you know how to care for people. I am grateful to know you, even it it’s via the web.

    As for my childhood dream? I was going to be an astronaut. And then the whole Challenger thing happened and I ran the other way. Fast.

    After that, well, I think I’ll have to go with the gal’s opinion above my comment… I wanted to do everything. Still do. And because that sort of thing overwhelms me, I end up sitting in front of the computer instead of taking those big steps towards a different direction. Plus I love in a super- dooper small community where change tends to take a lot more effort than I think is worth. Plus, well, I’m a bit afraid of change. Hmmm. Now you have my head going in circles.

  4. Hi there – I’m a newbie to wordpress and just recently came across your blog on the IVF tags. Just wanted to say that, as a fellow filipina-american going through infertility, I can totally relate to your posts. So much so, that I could have written them myself! Wishing you lots & lots of luck on your baby quest. Looking forward to coming across more of your great reads! 🙂

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