What Does Your Childhood Dream Say About You Today?

July 8, 2024
Learn how childhood career aspirations compare to your current path.
What Does Your Childhood Dream Say About You Today?
July 8, 2024
Learn how childhood career aspirations compare to your current path.





Jess dives into the importance of rediscovering our authentic selves and challenging the limiting beliefs we form from a young age. Reflecting on childhood dreams and the societal pressures that shape our self-image, Jess shares insightful anecdotes from her experiences speaking to diverse audiences, from Fortune 500 CEOs to kindergarteners.


Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Maybe you’re doing something close to what you wanted to do as a kid, or maybe you’re on a different planet than what you’d initially vision-boarded in the cafeteria with your milk carton dunking your dinosaur nuggets. Still, either way, your answer is telling.


Tune in to find out!

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Amplify with Jess is produced by Earfluence and brought to you by Mic Drop Workshop.


Speaker 1 (00:02):

Welcome to Amplify with Jess Ekstrom, A show designed to help women get out of their head and into their zone of influence. Happy Monday everyone. Here’s some food for thought to start your week.


Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grow up? I remember first I wanted to be an astronaut, but now I realize I get pale in the face and start writing letters to loved ones at the slightest blip of turbulence. So that career is long gone, but maybe you’re doing something now that was close to what you wanted to do when you were a kid, or maybe you’re on a totally different planet than your original vision that you had thought about when you were in a cafeteria with a milk carton. But either way, what was your answer of what you wanted to be when you grow up? And what is that telling you today? Why? Because it’s important to remember who you were before you were told what to be. Let me explain this further. So nowadays, as a professional speaker, I speak to a wide range of audiences, anywhere from Fortune 500 CEOs to a room full of kindergartners, and sometimes I end my talk with questions and answers.


Whenever I’m with a room full of CEOs, they hesitate. There’s like 30 seconds, maybe a hand or two goes up and asks me if I have any regrets or what’s next for me. But then when I’m done and I’m off stage, typically dozens or hundreds of attendees will come up to me afterwards and ask me their questions or comments individually instead of raising their hand in front of the audience. But if I end my talk to kindergartners with q and a, someone’s got to call security because the place is about to go nuts. All of the hands will shoot up to the point where a kid will almost rip their shoulder out of their socket and they all have a look on their face while just flapping their little hands in the air to say that if you do not call on me and answer my question, I might melt away.


But here’s the crazy thing. They don’t even know what their question is when they raise their hand. They just want to use their voice and be called on. So when you finally do call on one of them, they think of a question right on the spot. They’re like, do you have a dog or a cat, or do you ever cry or Are you married? Or, how much money do you have? And I actually took those questions from, I was speaking to a room full of kindergartners a couple months ago, and those were actual questions that were asked. But to me, this is evidence that at some point in our life, we tell ourselves to not raise our hand. We tell ourselves to hesitate. We tell ourselves not to look stupid. We tell ourselves some story that we made up in order to protect our self-image and self-esteem.


We tell ourselves a story that prevents us from raising our hand. So I did some digging around and I found that we start to form an opinion of ourselves at five years old, five, five years old. I have a 1-year-old right now with another on the way, and I’m just thinking, what information is she collecting right now to start to form an opinion of herself when she’s five? We start to identify ourselves as good or bad at things or mean or nice to people. But another interesting study done at University of Illinois found that 6-year-old girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their own gender are really, really smart. And also at age six, girls begin to avoid activities said for children who are really, really smart, they start to make decisions based on what they feel their gender should or should not be doing.


The study says that these findings suggest that gender notions of brilliance are acquired early and have an immense immediate effect on the children’s interests. But what’s also interesting in this study is that they found that the kids associating males with being really, really smart and females with being really, really nice. And when girls start to form their identity with being nice, rather than being smart, that begins to build hesitation to raise their hand in class or use their assertive voice. In 2017, there was a fifth grader named Alice Paul Tapper, and she wrote an op-ed in the New York Times because on a fourth grade tip, tapper noticed that all of the boys stood in front and raise their hands while most of the girls politely stayed in the back and were quiet. Then she said, I told my mom that I thought girls weren’t raising their hands because they were afraid that the answer was going to be wrong and that they would be embarrassed.


I also think that they were being quiet because the boys already had the teacher’s attention and they worried that they might not be able to get it. So at five years old, when we’re probably learning how to make bunny ears to tie our shoes, we’re also unknowingly gathering data to form an opinion of ourselves and what’s possible possible for us given our gender. Therefore, by the time it’s possible to start to become an astronaut or whatever it is that you want it to be, you may have already formed an opinion that disqualifies yourself. Think about that for a second. Did you form an opinion that disqualified yourself from who you wanted to be? It’s fine to change our minds given new information, but what information are we feeding our brains and what are we making of it to be true psychotherapist? Katie Hurley writes in her book, no More Mean Girls, the Secret to raising strong, confident and compassionate girls.


When girls Learn, she says that when girls learn to use their assertive voices, they not only tend to perform better in school, they’re also more likely to stand up to negative peer pressure, verbalize their feelings to their friends and family, and solve daily life problems on their own. She says that girls need to learn at an early age that their voices matter. They need to learn how to assert their feelings, thoughts, needs and ideas. More importantly, they need to learn to state those things with conviction. I love the wording of this, and this is what we talk about in Mic Drop Workshop is using your voice not only to get your point across, but use it with conviction. So my takeaway is this, at a young age, we start to associate being smart with being a man. And when we acquire that belief, it begins the process of silencing our voices, lowering our hands, and narrowing the range of potential careers we believe we can do.


When I go clothes shopping for my baby girl, Ellie, I always find myself in the boys section. I want Ellie to wear a NASA shirt with planes on it and dinosaurs on them. When I shop in the girls section, everything is pink with princesses, kittens and future shopaholic printed right across the chest. And there’s nothing wrong with loving pink or loving kittens, but when we believe that’s all that girls are interested in, we’re just fueling the belief that we’re the nice gender, not the smart one. This knowledge of knowing that gender stereotypes start to solidify at age six is helpful as we raise future generations of men and women, because women’s equality isn’t just a conversation for females. We need it in men too. So I will leave you with this. What beliefs have you acquired over time that tell you who you can and can’t be? The first step to changing the narrative is changing the belief that wrote it. Thanks for listening to Amplify. If you are a fan of the show us some podcast love by giving us a rating and review and give us a follow at Mic drop workshop and at Jess Ekstrom coming up on Amplify.

Speaker 2 (09:01):

If you’re not clear on what message your keynote’s going to be, you’re not clear on who your audience is. You don’t have clarity around those areas, you’re never going to move forward. You’re going to kind of stay stuck if you’re not confident in your message, which confidence kind of comes from clarity. They kind of go hand in hand, but if you’re not confident in your speaking ability, you don’t make eye contact. There’s different ways in your delivery that’s going to keep you stuck from where you’re at if you don’t have the right people surrounding you.

Speaker 1 (09:28):

This episode was edited and produced by Ear Fluence, and I’m Jess Ekstrom, your host. Remember that You deserve the biggest stage. So let’s find out how to get you there. I’ll see you again soon.



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