“When you’re a little kid, you’re a little bit of everything. Artist, scientist, athlete, scholar… Sometimes it seems like growing up is the process of giving those things up. One by one. I guess we all have one thing we regret giving up. One thing we really miss. That we gave up because we were too lazy or, we couldn’t stick it out or, because we were afraid.”
– The Wonder Years
Now if this little quote doesn’t bring a smile to your face and a flutter in your heart for good boy, Kevin Arnold, I’m not so sure if we can continue our friendship. Or blogship. Or whatever it is you call this little web we weave. I mean, honestly… look at him!
Jokes aside, Mr. Arnold (despite his puppy-love phase) was quite the intellect when it comes to life. At a ripe young age, he understood that giving up childhood dreams means you’re entering adulthood; I’m still struggling with that concept in my late 20’s. Looking back, I can count the various dream lives I planned for myself as a child. I can see the career choices, the housing options, and my love life.
In a recent conversation with a friend, I came to one big, daunting life question: How the hell did we get to be almost 30? And why are we so far off from where we thought we’d be? It seems like just yesterday I was 16-years-old, with my Zack Morris-esque new cell phone in hand, ready to hit the mall. Now my days consist of endless work, graduate studies, practicing magical mathematics of how to pay the bills, etc. Where did the dreams go?
When I was a very little girl, I dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. I was blessed as a child. My grandmother (“Nana”) spoiled her grandchildren rotten, including frequent trips to Disney World. During one of my first trips that was taken with just my parents and brother, we attended Sea World for the day. I fell in love. I immediately began begging my Mom to re-decorate my room in an ocean theme, and God love her, she agreed. I’m sure she loved seeing marshmellow-like whales and dolphins circling wildly about my room. I spent countless hours as a child learning and reading about sea life and marine biology. Until…
Enter Madonna. The hair, the voice, the female power, the spiky boobs… I was sold. I said goodbye to free Willy, and hello to loose women. I dreamed of becoming “the next Madonna”. I even referenced my dream career as so. “What are you going to be when you grow up, little girl?” … “The next Madonna.” Clearly, Britney Spears attempted this career leap instead of me, fortunately. We all know how that story played out. When I realized I wouldn’t be world-touring anytime soon, I set a new career plan in place.
I was going to be a reporter. I didn’t know for what, where, or how, but I was going to “report”. If you asked me in my teen years what a reporter did exactly, my answer probably would have been: they write, duh. You would also have to insert a nasty attitude that was attributed to the wacky hormones of a teenage girl. I imagined myself in a buzzing news room, typing away at a story, and looking at stacks of to-be-edited articles on my desk. It seems like a silly dream for a teenager, but I knew two things: I liked writing and I wanted a work desk. Clearly, these two desires made me a prime candidate to become a reporter. A reporter who reports on things from places. Moving on…
My next career dream was my most tried and true. I dreamt of becoming a psychologist. I wanted to work with forensic psychology and help trauma patients. I worked in mental health for a little over seven years and even started graduate school to become a psychologist. But, let’s face it people… the days of someone sitting on a couch while you answer their life problems are gone. Mental health is an interesting arena now… there’s a mix of the people who desperately need help and can’t get it, and the people who cause a scene for no reason and get all the help. After almost a decade seeing it daily, I fled my dreams of being Freud, and said take your phallic stage and shove it! Pun intended, for any psychology readers.
And then… there’s now. I work 45-hours a week as a coordinator at a for-profit post-secondary school. In other words, I get yelled at, disrespected, and cussed out for 25-hours a week and spend 20-hours a week typing reports and analyzing data. I also am a graduate student, studying higher education administration. The field really interests me, but I also can’t seem to land a job in it. The good old catch-22: you can’t have the job without experience; we won’t give you experience to get the job. Lastly, I work a part-time job on top of it all as an editor. In reality, I don’t know where I’m headed or when I’ll get there… I just keep plugging away day by day. Something’s got to land in place eventually, right?!
Considering my endless journey for a solid career dream path, I recently decided to throw all caution to the wind. I’ve never been the type of lady to take chances or dream too big. I always labelled myself as a ‘realist’ that didn’t get caught in the fanciful delights of the dreamers. Silly dreamers, scoff scoff judge judge. All of that is changing.
Two feet on solid ground? Not in a long time, honey.
I’m going to write. I’m going to write and blog. I’m going to dream the dreams I have been afraid to dream for years. Maybe it’s crazy. Maybe it’s a quarter-life crisis. But maybe, just maybe, it’s real.
Thanks for the clarity, Kevin Arnold. Dreaming is my “one thing”.