We all start out as dreamers
Children have lots of dreams. My kids switch on a monthly basis between wanting to be famous musicians, Olympians, actors, NFL players, and self-made billionaires. They never have small dreams. It is always about being on top of the world, being best of the best.
When I was a little girl I had lots of outrageous dreams myself. I wanted to be a super hero or a famous inventor so that I could make this world a better place. If that did not work out, I was planning to run away with a circus and become a world-known animal trainer. At the least I wanted to do something that will be remembered when I am long gone, something important that will leave a mark. I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of heroic act I would do but that didn’t bother me. I had lots of years ahead to figure it out.
High School graduation came too quickly. I remember pacing the kitchen trying to decide what major to pick in college. My childhood dreams suddenly seemed so irrational when faced with real life choices. So I changed my original plan to go for an art degree into a more practical profession. At that time my biggest wish was to be done with schooling as fast as possible in order to make money as soon as possible. To me, that equated to adulthood and independence. Being a freelance artist or a writer looked more like years of learning with no pay.
Sometimes life puts dreams on the back burner
I zipped through my twenties dreaming of finding love and starting a family. As husband and then kids came into my life to fulfill that wish, I became busy making a career, switching a career, increasing my income, trying to find out what I was actually good at. I dreamed of living a bigger and better life. I was looking forward to what was ahead and had high hopes for the future.
Somehow my life accelerated and I ended up in my thirties. I found myself wondering if I accomplished all I dreamed about. I didn’t save the world and I haven’t become famous or ultra rich but I had a great family and a well-paying job. I looked at others in my age category and they were all at different stages in life, pursuing different things - some just starting to think of family or career, others settling down, expanding and even starting over.
I still felt like I haven't arrived yet, even though I expected myself to figure everything out by thirty (!). I tried different things - some didn’t work out, some didn’t prove to be as successful as I hoped, but that was life. I made choices and there was no use of regretting them, although, I found myself feeling a bit dissatisfied. I started digging up my old dreams. Was it too late to pursue them? Why not just be happy with what I already had?
To dream or not to dream
So what do thirty-years-olds suppose to dream about anyways? Life often gets so busy at that age - who even has time to dream! Dreaming seems so impractical, even wasteful. Isn't it better to focus on doing something? The seemingly unattainable fantasies we had as youth had been buried a long time ago. What's the use of bringing them back if we have already achieved other goals or if, on the contrary, circumstances crushed us so unfairly?
We laugh at ourselves remembering what we imagined as children. How silly was it to think that we can do something great in life, something exceptional, something no one else had done before. How foolish was it to try and jump over our heads as youth. We might still be stuck paying loans for degrees that never brought us income or starting anew because we spent our youth exploring the world. If we still hold on to our unfulfilled dreams and try to pursue them despite the difficulties, wouldn't we end up misunderstood and even resented by our loved-ones? Isn't it better to be a responsible realist?
Well, there are extremes in everything but people who don’t dream at all and never attempt to pursue their dreams, might miss out on the opportunity to grow and live a full life. Imagination is what opens the doors to one’s destiny but as adults we can't just drop out of our reality for the sake of pursuing a fantasy. We have bills to pay and loved ones to take care of.
When my kids were little, I had to set a lot of ambitions aside. On the other hand, I did not want to be stuck in the routine of life or give up on my non-income-producing interests. In my thirties I felt that there was still something missing in life and that missing piece were my unrealistic aspirations. I wanted to pursue something that was beyond my reach again but I had to find time for it around my daily responsibilities. So now I edit my book during lunch break at work, write blogs while cooking dinner and paint when everybody is sound asleep.
It is never too late to dream again
I discovered that even though I might be busy with necessities of life, I did not have to completely give up on my dreams. Yes, I felt a bit discouraged when I looked at others who were able to make a career out of their passions while I was carving out a few precious hours here and there for mine. But I made a decision that even if my ideas never became anything but hobby, even if what I did benefited just my own soul, if it was only appreciated by my family and not generated a single penny, I would still pursue these things.
We all need a place where we can express ourselves and release our creative energy. The spark that was put in us as children to imagine, to break out of boxes and limitations and to touch the lives of others needs to be nurtured or it will die out. This world needs our originality but first of all, we need it ourselves to feel fully alive. Thirties is a perfect time to dream even bigger.
Below are two articles about people who found success later in life. Some of them switched careers completely, others worked on achieving their dreams for years before recognition finally came. This encouraged me to keep going further and to never stop believing in seemingly impossible things no matter what the age is. At one point all the inventions, innovations and masterpieces were just thoughts in somebody's unrestrained imagination.
What is it that you always wanted to do? It is never too late to try. So buy those paints, take that dance lesson, go on that trip, put in the resume for that job, write that memoir, make that investment, try that idea, and take at least one step in making your dream a reality. And if you forgot how to dream – start with letting your imagination soar again. What would your ideal home look like? What about your job? Friends? Family? Life? See it in your heart first and don’t settle for less.