Have dreams and daydreams, and learn the difference.
So, I spent the first half of my twenties succumbing to the type-A-ness of my personality that demanded A PLAN for all things, all the time. I wanted to devise the clearest line to the most logical career choice in the most accommodating place, so that I could live-out all the other pieces of the life that was meant to result from that hard work and planning. Get it? And, of course, we all know that this blog is the record of how everything delineated from that plan and became completely wonderful anyway.
If the first half of my twenties was about convincing myself that my plans were my dreams, I think a large part of the second half of my twenties was about dreaming big, big, big to make up for that lost time. I became worried that I'd missed the mark somehow, like if I'd just felt differently about it all and therefore done things differently, I might have stumbled upon some big missed dreamy opportunity. (Ironically, both my plans and my dreams landed me in [sorta] the same place eventually, so trust your heart, you know?)
The problem with trying to force yourself to dream instead of just dreaming is that you might get lost in a dreamy haze. Are you following this here? I would move from thoughts like, "If I could do anything or go anywhere, what would I do and where would I go?" to literally constructing outrageous fantasies about a girl who was just simply not me. I suppose this isn't so far-fetched an exercise for a writer, and quite honestly, I think ridiculous daydreaming is a fun pastime for anyone. The problem was, such emphasis on a mental pursuit of my dreams coupled with an onslaught of free time to let my imagination run wild, and suddenly I couldn't tell the difference between my dreams and my daydreams.
By allowing the two to marry, I set myself up for a different kind of failure. I was trying to figure myself out and chase after the thing that would make me happiest; but then my brain lost that me-pursuit chasing unreal versions of myself down a million hypothetical life paths. I would lose sight of the dream and instead fall into deep remorse over who I was not instead of celebrating finding the pieces of the real me.
You know how I said that eventually my plans and my dreams sort of landed me in the same place? That you have to trust your heart? Well, that rigid, regimented Sarah may have had a stick stuck you-know-where, but there was some method to her madness too. Even then, I think I still felt heart-led. Maybe I didn't allow room for life to work its magic, but I was still learning to trust that pull you feel when your spirit is drawn to something. I'm glad that I have [kind of] learned to let go and let life reveal my dreams to me; but I also see the value in having learned to set goals and boundaries and execute a plan. Dreaming is a beautiful thing, just like life is a beautiful thing; and they both must reside in the this thing the world calls reality.
What I realized is, dreams can absolutely be reality. That happens every day. And daydreams, while they are wonderful and occasionally purposeful and fun, might not be a reality. They both have their functions, but also their places. I'm learning the difference between the two and understanding that we all have thoughts that cross our minds that are only that--they are things not meant for this lifetime. That doesn't make us uninspired or unambitious or fearful. Actually, it makes us wonderfully imaginative and creative. We're daydreaming up things beyond ourselves, and I think that's an important call upon any human heart.
But don't let your daydream cause you to lose sight of your real dream, your calling. Carve out time for your fantasy to unfold; but don't let it consume the time meant for you to live out that dream that's really yours and completely and totally within your reach.