Dream Big is overused. It’s in front of all of us all the time so we forget it’s there. It just blends into reality with “Don’t Do Drugs” and “No Means No”. We hear rags to riches stories all the time, but they start at the extreme end of poverty and end on the complete opposite side where the person is driving a Mercedes. There are many Dream Big stories coming true that aren’t as noticeable and are much more believable. I did not grow up desolate poor and my Audi Q5 is still sitting snug as a bug on my vision board, but that isn’t the point of my story. In a world where we are stuck in awful jobs, relationships, and financially instability, there is an abundance of hopelessness, dreaming kills that hopelessness. By consistently imagining yourself at the next level you will notice that the environment around you will start to change. What is happening is the standards you had for yourself have improved and what was once “good enough” is no longer.
Thinking of doing something I don’t want to do makes me feel as if my soul is dragging behind my body. Often the need to provide for our family outweighs the soul’s pain, and for many years my body went into survival mode and my soul begrudgingly followed. Survival mode is very lonely and I have never been a stranger to loneliness. As a child for six years I went to a private Christian school where we were left alone in cubicles for five hours a day to do our work. Any turning or talking would be met with demerits which could eventually lead to the dreaded strap and probably hell. Near every day I would come home crying and begging to be put into public school, but parents always try and do what they feel is right for their children, and I was made to go the next day. I found no relief at home as we lived out in the middle of nowhere on a hobby farm, and with my parents always busy, the only way of getting anywhere was to bike ten miles into town. I ached for companionship that was not my younger brothers and sisters.
I found relief from the solitude by lying in bed and daydreaming. My vivid imagination brought me to places I had only seen in movies. I had all sorts of adventures. I visited the dark reaches of space where Princess Leia was my mom. I explored tunnels to a land before time, and I traveled through England with Robin of Loxley stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. The common theme to all my daydreams was that I was important and people wanted to be around me. With no other mental escape, I would sink into these worlds daily to ease my boredom and loneliness. The need to daydream slowed as I got older and I eventually stopped when I was told that I had made the decision to be a mom and that’s all I was to do. The late great Lou Tice once said “When I stopped dreaming, I stopped growing.” For ten years I chose not to dream as it wasn’t realistic and completely useless. I had no idea that eventually going back to dreaming would save my mental wellbeing on more than one occasions.
My time as my dad’s drywall assistant seven years ago wasn’t all bad, but nonetheless the bad memories outweigh the good. The majority of the time I was dirty covered in drywall mud and dust and driving a big orange short box pickup truck. My lesson to be learned those days was humility and boy was I humbled. The work was mentally exhausting and labor intensive, as my dad pushed me as hard as he would my brothers, if not harder. My job mostly was to clean up left over drywall scrap littered throughout massive houses. I was almost always alone and it would take me hours to haul armfuls of scrap up and down flights of stairs. The job consumed my life as every day I dreaded the next. The only thing I had to look forward to in life was I had been asked to play a part in an Independent Film. The thought of my big break kept me going and when the time came, it was the closest thing to being treated like a movie star that I had ever been. It was everything that I wanted to be, everything I wanted to do. I did not want the weekend to end, but it did and the very next day I went back to my unglamorous life of dirty clothes, filthy surroundings and labor intensive work. My soul was crushed and as I walked around the drywall strewn house, I cried. I would tell others my story of how important I was made to feel over the weekend and how well I did, but there are few that know the feeling of living their dream. Those that do know don’t understand how it must feel to have it stripped away, save for Cinderella.
Being home and off work brought no solace as the loneliness and mental exhaustion followed me there. Unlike some feelings such as jealously and hurt that are gradually watered down with life, the memory of loneliness stays with us and we always remember how lonely we were at times in our lives. At this time, with the taste of my dream life still in my mouth, I stood alone in a cold, damp shell of a house, dazed. I was covered from last week’s drywall mud, my hair up in a dirty hat, wearing a small amount of mascara to keep the bit of femininity I had. Scraps of drywall littered the ground around me and the dread of the three hours ahead of me was overwhelming. I was devastatingly lonely. So, as a thirty something year old adult, I sunk back into the memories of the time I had lived my dream.
My story took off on its own, and like a wild fire it grew. I befriended celebrities, I won Oscars, dined in Paris, starred in movies, wrote novels, took trips with my kids and designed my dream house. I was lost in my imagination and forgot where I was and what I was doing. Before I knew it, the house was scrapped. Daydreaming again awakened in me a childlike whimsy and I saw things unfold that I never thought would happen. When I ignored my current circumstances and imagined greater, I began to make changes unconsciously that would create a ripple effect that eventually got me here to where I am today. I have never stopped dreaming since.
I now print my dreams and desires and place them on a cork board. My vision board has cruises, shoes, office chairs and desks, beach houses, designer dresses and an itinerary of my dream trip to New Zealand and Paris. We are all extremely visual, so when the image in our head does not match our reality it causes tension and discomfort in us, and then subconsciously we put into action steps to change the outer picture in order to match the inner one. Nearly every day for years, I have looked at a picture of an office on a beach overlooking the ocean. This picture to me signifies having a job I love with the freedom to travel and do it from anywhere in the world. I never imagined when I pinned it there five years ago how close I would be to my dream job today. Besides looking at the picture and imagining the feeling of being there on that beach, I have done nothing consciously to make that happen, yet here I am today doing what I love to do and potentially having an opportunity to write from the comforts of the beach. Mr. Rogers once asked us if we ever grew anything in the garden of our mind. What do you want? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? If you plant your dream and nurture it, it will grow.
All meaningful and lasting change starts from the inside.