When we’re young, people often ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Do you remember your answers? Weren’t they amazing – so full of life and vision and possibilities! I know that I responded a number of different ways. I have always wanted to be a mom, but that’s not usually what they were asking. At one time I wanted to be an Aeronautical Engineer because I love space – thinking about it, learning about it, looking at it, whatever! Other times I wanted to be a dancer, a singer or an artist. At one point I even wanted to be a martial artist in movies like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, thanks to my big brothers. I can feel the vibrancy of those old dreams even now. I hope you can too.
But life happens to pretty much all of us. Perhaps it’s a job that takes up almost all our time. Or maybe family is is the number one priority. For some, it’s a surprise obstacle that screeches life to a halt, such as a chronic illness or other abrupt life change. What then? Do your dreams suddenly disappear? Do you just give up on them? Do you hang onto hope that you’ll get to them someday? Or do you keep the dream alive even if it’s just in baby steps?
Going after your dreams is a great vehicle to stay alive. Personally, if I don’t have something meaningful to strive for, I start to deteriorate – emotionally, physically, etc. Suddenly, I feel all the pains, fatigue, frustrations and stresses of life more acutely. I begin to lose hope of being strong and active again. Memories flood back when illness controlled my life. Sometimes, I even forget what it feels like to be happy. My family begins losing their mom, bit by bit.
HOWEVER, if I do have a project, something to create that is uniquely me, it pulls beauty from inside of me and I feel alive. I don’t focus on the yuck nearly as much, and I start to feel better, more connected to my family and friends, and even valuable to society. I actually enjoy living. Suddenly life is joyful, fulfilling and even exciting.
The size of the dream doesn’t matter. I don’t need to aim for the stars each time I step into a project. What matters is that it’s important to me. Sometimes, it’s practicing the piano again, just to hear myself create beautiful sounds. Other times, it’s fiddling with a poem or short story – most of which never see the light of day. They’re just for me to express thoughts or feelings in a different way. I have several interests that I cycle through when they feel right. Each one fills and strengthens me in a unique way.
So, for me, actively pursuing my dreams, big or small, is essential! It may or may not be the same for you, but I invite you to try it. Start working on something that is meaningful to you – something that you can create or improve, or that uses your gifts and talents to bring joy to your life and the lives of those around you. Then, just maybe, your family will see the real you, the happy you, the you that is both loving them and living your dreams – obstacles or not.