Don’t Give Up on Your Dreams

Once upon a time there was a little red-haired girl who dreamed of becoming Princess Leia. She was going to be a star gymnast, a Hollywood actress, a singer/dancer who regularly sold out arenas, and in her spare time, a Jedi.

The girl grows. Even though she still wants to be a Jedi and daydreams about being Paula Abdul or Janet Jackson, she has more realistic goals. She wants to get married, have kids, live in a nice house, have a good job. Do the Jedi thing on the side. She also harbors a secret desire to get paid for reading books all day. Or writing. Whichever. Both.

As the years progress, the dreams slip away, one by one. Singing and dancing go early, but to be fair, she couldn’t carry a tune to save her life so it was no hardship to let that one go. Living in a house was a great idea, but although she could buy a house, she couldn’t afford to live in one. She didn’t want to be a single mom, so kids were out of the question until marriage. And marriage? Well . . . sigh. Gotta find a decent guy, first.

She never considered the dream of writing or reading for a living anything other than a fairy tale. Even when her college honors advisor was convinced she was an English major, and she had poetry published her college’s literary magazine, she did not really think she cut out for such success.

And thus she hobbled through life, existing but never flourishing. Never believing she could, so she didn’t. And so she lived, boringly ever after.

In my twenties, I threw away dreams of creativity for a steady paycheck and an “adult” life. I thought it was what I was “supposed” to do, so I did it. Writing was a hobby, and even that got put away eventually.

In my thirties, I gave up any idea of ever owning a home, because I left the well-paying job for a more fulfilling career in the service industry. I was much happier, but fiscally barely making ends meet.

At forty, I gave up on the idea of having kids and getting married. I’d never met the right guy, and the ticking clock was winding down. I made my peace with it. I hoped to move into an apartment that allowed cats.

The older you get, the more jaded you become. You lose hope that the things you deeply want can ever be reality. Because Life is often a bully, and likes to knock your lunch out of your hands in the cafeteria, then stand back smugly while everyone laughs.

But here’s the thing . . . you can get another lunch.

Here’s what happened to me after my fortieth year, when I gave up on everything:

  • I met a guy who is so perfect for me it’s almost disturbing. Eighteen months after meeting, we got married.
  • We live in a house. Our house. No renting.
  • I adopted his three adorable fur-kiddos. When they “went off to college,” we found a new “boy” to take in and love.
  • I went into business for myself, finally admitting that I’m much happier being my own boss.
  • I discovered that my writing makes a difference in people’s lives.
  • I haven’t published any books or literary pieces in prestigious publications, but I have been self-publishing for nearly a decade in the blog genre.
  • I found a way to make a living with words. And I’m going to make it happen.
  • I realized if I put in the effort, I could be a brown belt, or even a black belt. If you get enough stripes on that black belt, people start calling you Yoda. That’s almost like being a Jedi. Close enough!

Sometimes dreams take longer to manifest than we realize, and they don’t always take the form you thought they would. But that’s okay.

Your dreams CAN manifest. And they can be glorious. The kicker is, you have to make room for them. You’ve got to jettison the BS that’s holding you back. You’ve got to slog through some nasty stuff to understand why you think you can’t have/do/be The Dream.

But on the other side of that . . . dreams do come true.

(Except for me singing. But you should be grateful for that).

My boys and I on vacation in Maine last August.