Going after your dreams — what does that even mean? Especially once you’re grown.
There are things I remember from growing up, times when I was clearly dreaming and imagining what my future would be like. I remember my siblings and friends dreaming, too. As an adult, I can’t tell you the last time I dreamed about my future or heard other adults imagining theirs. We say things like, “When I win the lottery …,” as if we know dreaming is far-fetched and would never happen.
When I was a kid, my sister and I would play make-believe. We’d use every prop available in our house and yard to make things “real.” We imagined new scenarios all the time, and we had recurring ones, too. Now, as an adult, I don’t have new dreams (and there’s certainly no greatest hits playlist). I can’t think of a single adult I know who imagines what his or her life could be like someday. (Maybe I need to change my company.)
When I was a kid, I imagined I was J.C. Wiatt from the movie Baby Boom. I was the president of some big-shot company on Wall Street, and I adopted a baby and married the town vet in the small, Vermont town where I ran my apple orchard and made gourmet baby food (which would eventually become a global brand like Gerber). I put on my best church clothes, made a makeshift briefcase, and tore a page from Tiger Beat to frame as a picture of my husband. (We didn’t mess around. Our make-believe was legit.)
Now I see, our worst times of make-believe as kids were better than any amount of dreaming I — or any other adult I know — have ever managed. We’re much too practical now.
Or are we just bored and boring now? If we are, it’s only because we’ve stopped dreaming.
What would it even look like to dream? For the life of me, this feels like the hardest thing I’ve done in a while, but let’s try.
You’re my friend. You’re over at my house, and we’ve run out of things to do. I say, “Want to play make-believe?” (That’s what we would have done as kids, right?) I remember it being a little slow to start, even back then, but then we’d get into it, and before we knew it, three hours had passed and your mom was calling for you.
ME: So, you want to play make-believe?
YOU: Okay, what should we play?
ME: How about house? We could be married and have a dog.
YOU: No, that’s boring. Want to be the ruler of a kingdom?
ME: Meh, I don’t really want to be a princess.
YOU: Then what do you want to be?
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE?
We can be anything (or at least a lot of things).
Why is that such a hard question?
My sister and I were talking the other day. Her second child is about to start preschool in the fall. She’s in her mid-thirties now. Her oldest is eight, almost nine, and she was telling me about conversations she and her husband had been having recently. She’s considering options for her career. She said, “Who knows, I could do anything, maybe go back to school, because if you believe what the economists say, I’ll work until I’m seventy.”
“Right,” I said, “You’re basically an infant. You have a whole second life ahead of you.”
And she does.
It could be anything she can imagine.