The Mamas & the Papas sang about it. So did Aerosmith. Dream a little dream of me. Dream on. In modern America, #LiveYourDream is on billboards, shopping bags, t-shirts, mugs, and in combinations of status updates, tweets, and Instagram memes. A blinking mantra of our time; we love to share quotes and we love for them to be inspiring, but how often do we practice what we preach?
“The poorest man in the world is the man without a dream.The most frustrated man in the world is the man with a dream that never becomes reality.” -Myles Munroe
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau
“If you can DREAM it, you can DO it.” -Walt Disney
Artists imagine their art in a museum, singers and actors dream of Hollywood and Broadway. Others may just dream of being rich so they can buy lots of stuff and pretend to have control over life. I’ve never officially proclaimed my dream, like declaring a major in college. It might be time to pick one.
Growing up, My parents and I didn’t engage in dream talk; we were too practical. Fleeing the Soviet Union and tasting American freedom was already a dream realized. When I went to college, I didn’t set out “to live my dream,” I did what I thought you did after high school; the default order of things. On my college application, where I feigned a career dream (“become the next Barbara Walters”) connected to a predicted major (Journalism). 2016 trumps 1992 on the value placed on pursuing dreams. I was much more pragmatic and was the first to put glass ceilings on any semblance of dreams. I didn’t want to take a rough-through-Iowa, journalism job, starting salary $18K. Instead, I chose a job in advertising. I never envisioned a full-time writing career as an option. I would get to construct words and sentences in the form of copywriting, proposals and professional emails.
A career in advertising (especially in NYC) could be fun, and often was, but it was also soul-sucking, rarely-fulfilling in the grander scheme of things (whatever those are, they weren’t being satisfied). I documented my life in my head, in notebooks, in emails and my new schtick became “I’m going to write a book one day.” I used that creative mantra as an excuse for fifteen years. I coulda, woulda, shoulda my way through life instead of waking up any one day and deciding, “I will sell this house today.” Finally, a rough pregnancy forced me into a corner between the toilet and the computer and I somehow typed hundreds of pages. Instead of acknowledging the virtue of words appearing where there once were none, I discounted my voice, doubted my story, denied its value.
The bottom line is I don’t want to commit to a dream out loud because it means really committing to working towards it – declaring it to the universe and embracing it as I make it so. My dream is to write a novel, a screenplay, make a movie based on my book/screenplay so I can afford vacations where I don’t have to cook and private school because my daughter is so damn smart and keeps getting accepted into schools we can’t afford. My dream is for money not to have as much power as it does.
For me having a career dream is too much, like the lottery. I’ve already gotten so many dreams come true. I wake up in a warm bed every morning with my dream man. I’ve created humans. I’ve loved enough to leave an impact. I’ve written words for those who matter. If dreams are fairy tales come true, mine are in the pages of happily ever after every day, but still I need the universe commands: fulfill your dreams.
Come what may.