There are a lot of young people in my area looking at colleges and making final decisions which will impact their life for many years to come. Thinking of that reminded me of a time of life quite a while back when I did the same. Whether you are 16, 50, or 80, this message is from me to you. Follow your very own dream. Do not let the sensible plans and urging of people close to you cause you to follow their dreams. Listen politely and learn what you can from them, but ponder what is in your own heart and follow your own passion. Where your passion is, therein lays the answer to your ultimate choice. It may not be the “something” that you are to spend your remaining decades of life doing, but we focus too much energy on living what others say we should, and what we think makes sense in decades to come. If you put too much thought and energy into what life might (or might not) be many decades from today, you miss the vast and thrilling opportunities that face you at this very moment!
How do I know this? I know it because I spent much of my life, thus far, focusing on what was sensible and what society, teachers, guidance counselors, and family approved of and far too little on what the passion of my heart and my ultimate driving force deep in my soul was telling me. As a Christian, I know that what I’m that passionate about can only be from the Lord. I know this now. There are people my age who are thinking “how many more years until I can retire? I want to retire you” and the fact that I’m looking deep within me and chiseling away at years of brick walls which hid the dream that I once had really scares them. They truly worry. They think I’m crazy. They make sense. Their points are valid. There is a huge list of “but what about” in what I’m doing. In the very near future, as human eyes see it, some of those “but what abouts” may come to life for me. However, what my passion is brings me life as sensible pursuits never have. I face the dreaded “losing it all” with more smiles than fears. I’m shooting for the moon. If I miss, as the cliché says, I’ll land among the stars!
How did my life get to this point? Let’s go back to the beginning. My family never had much money. My home life was so wonderful though that I never knew this. Thinking back, friends who wanted to be at my home actually had a lot more of the “stuff” we are supposed to crave than we ever did. Yet, they were happier hanging out in a place with no diamonds and flashy things . . . no new technology and glamorous baubles from trips to exotic places. I never missed any of that stuff. Was I supposed to? It was in high school as friends got new cars bought for them and considered one college over another that I suddenly stumbled and landed on my butt and was somewhat bruised by a reality that changed the look of my happy childhood into a young adulthood of “not enough.” I ruled out college, though nobody said I had to, I stopped dreaming about what I “wanted to be” in life, and looked at sensible options which could provide immediate, or near immediate solutions to a problem I suddenly saw in my happy life. Sure, someone could have shown me other options, but I was quiet and serious and determined to do the sensible thing which was get a job right out of high school and begin decades of doing what “made sense.”
At one point in my 20s I thought about the dream and dabbled in it as a hobby, but success in the career I landed in kept getting in the way. You see, a high school teacher suggested a friend of his consider me for a clerical job and I got the job. No more thought went to the dream I’d had since I was 3 years old or so. No more thought to do anything as foolish as trying to make a life as an artist and writer. That was the dream. Dreams are for other people or so I thought. So I took the sensible job as a clerk and after that brief time in my 20s of playing at my old dream, I realized I was good at other people’s dreams and kept getting promoted. Soon the dream was buried under brick walls of sensibility. Eventually with a title that had “vice president” in it, the dream was so deeply hidden that my soul might have still known it was there, but I’d forgotten it.
A shock hit my comfortable and sensible life after 25 years and many promotions. My company was sold and I found myself laid off. Did I remember the old dream and see this as an opportunity? No. I found a similar job at another firm. Sensible Martha doing what she was good at, and all who knew me sighed with relief. Oddly, this time I realized how unhappy I was with the successful career I’d had for so long. Another layoff and another opportunity to change came along. I took the same sort of job in a new firm once again, but this time I also looked for a way toward a new life. I eventually sold my home and moved away from all that was comfortable and familiar. This time, I’m following my dream of long ago, or trying to. I don’t know where the story will end and even I can see what the world keeps reminding me of. The life I’m living makes no sense . . . or so they seem to think. Know what? Following my own passion and working at what I was “made for” is worth all the strange looks and whispers “they” think I do not see and hear. I might have to be a wee bit sensible in order to be enabled to follow the dream, but that’s okay. I’ve found it after a lot of chipping away at those brick walls of sensibility. I’m not letting go of my passion this time. I’ve found myself after many many years of being what others urged me to be.
I urge you, my readers, to find your dream – your passion, and make it a part of your life. I encourage you not to wait until later, much later, as I did. I do not regret 25 years of success in someone else’s dream for regret accomplishes nothing. I believe that those years may even have helped me evolve into the person I am today. I am, however, going to live my passion, finally. It won’t always be comfortable and I might not always sleep well, but I’m finally following the path I am meant to follow. I urge you to do the same.