March 17, 2011

A letter to my dreams

You thought I forgot, but I didn't. Way back in October, I set myself a challenge to write 30 letters. Not just any letters. 30 specific letters. 30 not-always-easy letters. The list can be found here. I've already written a letter to my best friend, to my crush, to my parents, and to my siblings. This letter is to my dreams.

If you're not interested in my letters, you can click the image below for something more interesting. Check out the archive here for some truly beautiful shots.

Dear Dreams,

I'm not talking to the skeletons I saw in a waking sleep after watching Prom Night as a pre-teen. I'm not talking to the ever-changing, rambling maze of a house that I frequently visit in my nocturnal excursions. I'm talking to my goals and aspirations. Specifically, what I want to be when I grow up. Where are you, and why have you always been so elusive?

As a child I wanted to be a veterinarian, because I loved animals. It seemed like a good answer to the inevitable question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I still love animals, but experience showed me being a vet also involved blood, gore, and death. I just wanted to love animals, not operate on them. I certainly didn't want to put them down! Being bit by a dog didn't help, either.

In Junior High, my guidance counselor suggested I find a nice man and settle down. I'm not sure what test results brought that up. I didn't realize at the time what a horrible thing that counselor did to me. I just took it to heart. I started thinking about becoming a masseuse, because the guys I practiced on seemed to think I had talent.

In High School, when asked where I saw myself in 5 years, the answer truly was that I didn't. I was convinced I would die young, because I simply couldn't conceive a vision of where I would be and what I would be doing. I don't think I understood the question to mean "what do you want to be doing in 5 years?" or even "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I lived very much in the now, with no plans or aspirations, no goals to look forward to beyond graduation.

After graduation, I became engaged. That was something to look forward to! A wedding! I had no real concept of what married life would be like. I certainly didn't think the divorce would be final 2 years later, to the day. During that time I'd started going to school to become an accountant, as I found the columns and numbers fun. I left the marriage with our bedroom set and credit card bills. He got everything else, including the car, making it very difficult to get to school and work. The CPA dream was discarded.

I found someone else and made babies. Now I had direction! I would be a mom, the best mom I could be. When that relationship fell apart, I was given the opportunity to go back to school. I could be more than just a mom! I still didn't know what I wanted to do, so took classes until I found something I liked. I almost ended up in a CPA program again, but what I really liked was to play with clay. I planned to open a storefront, renting shelf space to local artists, selling my work, and teaching classes in the back. I would work on pieces at the front counter while I minded the store. I even worked out a floor plan.

That relationship didn't last either. I realized I couldn't support myself and my children as an artist, and found a job based on my computer skills. I put you away, dreams, focusing on the reality of putting a roof over our heads and food in our mouths. I was able to do that for 10 years, until my children were grown. Then I started thinking about you again.

I thought about that little shop, and tried to see where I could take my art. Without confidence and a good sales drive, the avenues I approached didn't lead anywhere. I think part of the problem is, I've stopped believing in dreams again.

My poor dreams, you are now a means to an end. I dream of working in the IT field, not because I have a passion for it (though I really do like the idea of playing with computers all day), but because it's a good field to be in. I dream of having enough money to fix my house, to buy a car, to maybe go on a cruise some day. I dream of putting enough away so I can retire.

I have little goals that get me through the day. Races I want to run. Classes I want to finish. I always put something in front of myself, so I have a direction and something to learn. I just don't know where those somethings will ultimately lead. I'm back in high school right now, with no clue where I'll be and what I'll be doing in 5 years. Maybe by then I'll have new dreams, and the means to achieve them.

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