I’ve spent the past two months working so much that the luxury to dream the dreams hasn’t even had time to knock on the door of my headspace, much less get inside.
And the thing is, I spent SO much time in the six-weeks-that-turned-to-14-months wishing that I could be doing this exact type of work again. I cried. I paced. I tortured myself with what-ifs. I worried about bills before we even needed to worry about bills. I begrudgingly chiseled away at my savings.
I also had all the time to think about other stuff, too. And I did. Mostly about donuts, and when I would eat them again, but also about who I was in a time when I was encouraged to think about who I would become. I got to reunite with parts of my childhood I thought were gone forever, which made me think of more parts of my childhood, which made me tune into who I planned to be before stuff like money and responsibility clouded my dreams and they stilled to whispers so quiet I almost never heard them. More accurately, I didn’t let myself. (I mean, who DREAMS of being a pharmacy technician when they’re a kid? I didn’t even KNOW about jobs aside from doctor, nurse, teacher, firefighter, policeman, SNL cast member.)
I grew through the stages of grief when it came to my job and my industry. I took temporary jobs, sure that any moment, I’d be back, so it was best not to commit. When the weeks stretched to months, I focused on building my website, learning about landing pages versus menus versus pop-ups, learning about basic – very basic – coding.
I grew through the stages of thinking temporarily to thinking that this could be my permanent life. I started to dream the dreams again, cautiously. I did a vision workshop and allowed myself to plan a 2021 that didn’t include my former life, the life that was so woven into my previous career that every hour of my day had to be relearned.
I grew through the stages of being angry at everyone about something that none of us could control to being excited about a future that none of us could understand. I became sure that THIS was my life now, and how lucky was that? I found my new workout routine, and people. I began to coach. I began to let myself dream the dreams in bigger ways.
And then, the world began to open again.
And then, I allowed the pull of my old life to dictate my new one.
And then, I left my house for work.
And then, without even realizing it, I did not dream the dreams anymore.
As children, we’re taught to plan what we WANT to be, but as adults, that frequently turns into what we HAVE to be. We turn from proactive to reactive. We graduate from learning in institutions to learning in life, and life frequently doesn’t take the time to encourage us to nurture our hopes and dreams.
We have to do it ourselves.
This week, I got to go on a retreat that I learned in the in-between times, that I spoke up about before committing again to the before times. It was established, cleared, approved. And yet, the day I left, I was pulled into the guilt of walking away. Without going into the why, I spent the first day and a half – a full 50% of my time – communicating with my professional life at home without allowing myself this already-desperately-needed respite.
I deserve better. WE deserve better.
Carve out time – five minutes of time, really, just that – daily to center yourself. To check in with yourself. To own that it’s never too late to do the thing that you think you cannot do. With me, I did dream the dreams when I had nothing else to occupy my time, but stopped so quickly when my time was spoken for again. And maybe you’re the same.
Just because the world is shifting back again does NOT mean that you have to. Cherish the time you had and own the fact that it doesn’t have to leave you. Check in with your childhood self and see how you’re feeling about where you are. I sat next to a first-grader on my flight here who had never flown before. She told me her life story with unselfconscious abandon. She wants to be a firefighter. She loudly, repeatedly, exclaimed about what it really FELT like to be inside the clouds. She lost her MIND about how tiny and far away the ground was. And she never once considered that maybe, just maybe, she was supposed to whisper.
Do I condone yelling in planes? Mostly no. Do I condone yelling inside yourself to wake yourself up and remind yourself to dream the dreams? Shit yeah.
Where are you? Where ARE you, really? How far of a jaunt is it to where you want to be? I can go with ya if you want.
But forget that footsteps stuff. I’m not carrying you, for God’s sake.
Love you. Mean it. Now it’s your turn.