I first saw Shane Koyczan present to school staff in a school district right outside of Vancouver. A brilliant and colorful Canadian poet, he talks about dreams and love and rage and growing up.
This is an excerpt from a transcript of his recent TED TALK:
“‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I always thought that was an unfair question. It presupposes that we can’t be what we already are. We were kids.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a man. I wanted a registered retirement savings plan that would keep me in candy long enough to make old age sweet. When I was a kid, I wanted to shave. Now, not so much.
“When I was eight, I wanted to be a marine biologist. When I was nine, I saw the movie Jaws, and thought to myself, ‘No, thank you.’ And when I was 10, I was told that my parents left because they didn’t want me. When I was 11, I wanted to be left alone. When I was 12, I wanted to die. When I was 13, I wanted to kill a kid. When I was 14, I was asked to seriously consider a career path.
“I said, ‘I’d like to be a writer.’
“And they said, ‘Choose something realistic.’
“So I said, ‘Professional wrestler.’
“And they said, ‘Don’t be stupid.’
“See, they asked me what I wanted to be, then told me what not to be.
“And I wasn’t the only one. We were being told that we somehow must become what we are not, sacrificing what we are to inherit the masquerade of what we will be. I was being told to accept the identity that others will give me.
“And I wondered, what made my dreams so easy to dismiss?”
Watch the full TED Talk: