Shazia Mirza: Diary of a disappointing daughter

My parents always said, “Dream big and be the best.” I spent my childhood dreaming – it got me through the bad times. Then I became a teacher, and I encouraged my pupils to dream. All the boys wanted to be footballers and pop stars, the girls models and hairdressers. I knew most of them would never achieve their goals, but I still wanted to encourage their dreams.

Why? Dreams just cause misery. Parents tell you to follow them, but they know in their hearts you aren’t going to make it. There can be only one winner in an egg-and-spoon race.

When I got to university, I couldn’t believe I’d actually got in. Then I got a degree and I couldn’t believe I’d passed. I had already surpassed all a person of my intellect and capability could achieve. But I wanted more.

I became a comedian, and now I’ve made it I want to play Madison Square Garden – even though people tell me to be content with what I’ve got. The problem is, I was encouraged to dream, so I dreamed, and now I can’t stop. I want to play to 20,000 people, be a Hollywood movie star and conquer the world. If I don’t achieve these dreams, then what’s the point of life?

My parents started all this. Kids today watch the X Factor and think they can do it that way. Sometimes I wish my parents had said, “Don’t dream: work in a factory, eat soup all your life and wear flip-flops. That way you’re guaranteed to be happy.”