When Your Dreams Are Too Big.

When I was in junior high, our school was putting on a production of "Once Upon a Mattress." I was really excited about it and had been working up the nerve to audition. I nervously told my parents about it and my stepdad laughed at me and said,"Seriously? You're going to sing? Who do you think you are?"

Wha...what? I was going to...I just thought...I mean...No? I shouldn't?

That's the first time I really remember feeling like my dreams were too big. And that I wasn't good enough. And I really wasn't good enough for my too big dreams. Which...a role in the school play isn't even that big of a dream. No way was I going to shoot for anything bigger than that.

I spent a really good chunk of my life keeping my dreams small. My dream is to have a paycheck. My dream is to not get fired. My dream is for my hair to look good today. My dream is to make enough money to get by.

And then, when I was 33, my dream became, "I don't want to work in clubs anymore where people point guns at me and try to grab my ass all night."  Real things that happened, real "dream." I was managing a strip club and had this sudden realization that this was my life. Hoping I didn't get shot. Trying not to get felt up. Going home to my husband and trying to just be normal and not stressed out. And not feel worthless.

I didn't have any education. I was a high school drop-out with a GED and GEDs were really easy to come by when I got mine. I didn't know how to do anything except work in bars. So I decided to go back to school. I didn't even know what I wanted to study, I just knew that school would help me achieve the dream of "I don't want to work here anymore." I thought about it for a really long time and settled on...something smart. I'm going to study something that smart people study, because I'm dumb.

I really thought that. I thought that my entire life. I'm a high school drop-out, I'm dumb, and the whole world is smarter than me. So my education needed to be "something smart." I picked biology. After all, science is for smart people, right?

My placement tests were a joke. My composition skills were great, my math skills were non-existent. I would have to take a year of math before I could even get into college level courses.

Biology degrees require physics, calculus, and organic chemistry. Needless to say, people tried to dissuade me from biology. But...I was really, really tired of feeling dumb. So I chose biology anyway, and I just dove into math with everything I had.

I was terrible at it. Like - REALLY bad.

So I bugged my teachers every single day. I was in the math lab every single day. I didn't leave campus until I had finished my math homework and more. If we were assigned the even numbered problems, I did all of the problems.

I was not going to spend my life getting my ass grabbed and having guns pointed at me because I couldn't figure out how to solve for X.

So I got my associate's degree and because I had worked SO hard, I got a bunch of scholarships and I got accepted into a 4 year university. And I'm actually really, really good at math. And I got a job doing something that I loved and decided to take a hiatus from school for a bit.  And for a while, that was awesome. When I left that job, it was to open our bar Blue, and that was also awesome. I learned how to be an event coordinator in that time, as well, and I loved it.

Something as simple as being able to "solve for X" gave me the confidence to realize that I can figure out just about anything, if I set my mind to it.

But then my dreams got "too big" again...

When we closed the bar this past February, I said I wanted to work from home. The anxiety and depression meant my dream was just to not have to leave the house, ever again. And then, as I got better and more focused, my dream was to actually contribute to our household expenses. And then, as I got even better, I decided that my dream was to take Hey Lola on the road, in an RV or tour bus, with a traveling studio, and do pop up shops across the country and hug people and cry and tell them that they are worth SO MUCH and that they are loved and not alone and it's ok if you don't want to go to the party and your voice shakes when you speak because ME TOO! We're in this together! And maybe I could write a book or something and...

And then me was like, "Girl. That is so stupid. That's going to cost you like a trillion dollars and how is that even going to work? Reign it in. Why don't you just dream about paying your mortgage and buying groceries?"

But...but ..I could...

And me said, "Sister, you are delusional. Do you have any idea how much stuff you would have to sell every single week to do that? You can't even get out of bed half of the time! And you can't go on tour! You cry ALL.OF.THE.TIME. Who wants to talk to the crying girl?"

And I was like...Oh. Yeah. You're right. That's pretty dumb.

And me said, "Also, you're not going to write a book. You have a blog, not a book. You're not a writer. It's not the same thing. These are like...hobbies, not jobs. You should probably get ready to start waiting tables again."

And for a couple of days, I let that version of me drive the conversation and pretty much piss all over my big, beautiful tour bus dream.

And then, in this moment of clarity, I realized....never in a million years would I say that to someone if they came to me and told me that that was their dream. I would NEVER talk to anyone the way that I had talked to myself. If it was anyone else, I would have asked, "Do you have a plan? Do you have multiple goals before the big goal? Is it realistic? How committed are you? How can I help?" And I would have helped them formulate a plan because dreams are awesome and worth pursuing and who on earth tells someone with a dream that their dreams are TOO BIG?

Not me, you guys. I can solve for X. So I made a plan. And I set a series of goals that would need to be fulfilled in order to achieve the big goal. And in 3 years, I'm getting a tour bus and taking this show and my whole family on the road. That's the big goal. And if the big goal takes a little longer, that's ok. Because I know for sure it will NEVER happen if I give up on it or if I don't put together a plan that at least makes every attempt to reach it. Faced with "this is a possibility" vs. "never," I choose the possibility.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that your dreams are too big. You have the power to accomplish really amazing things. I believe in you. You should believe in you, too.

(OH! And I auditioned for "Once Upon a Mattress" anyway. And I was cast in a lead role, where I sang a song all by myself, in front of everyone. And I was good.)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this.

D Kindhart said...

I love that you can solve for x!

I love that you can call your dream a plan and then work that plan.