I have always been a dreamer.
Growing up, my childhood was filled with imagination. Through the books I read, the movies I watched, and the make-believe games I played, I lived many lives. I was a princess, a teacher, a doctor, a singer, a famous actress, a girl growing up in Colonial America, a librarian, a fairy, a Disney Channel Star, a WNBA basketball player, a teenager in the 1970’s, a pirate, and probably my favorite, a grocery store cashier.
I always dreamt of travelling to the places I read about in books and learned about in school. When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, there was never just one answer, it was always changing. I can remember whenever I traveled to new places I would make up stories in my mind of what my life would be like if I had grown up there.
I was always encouraged to dream big and have an imagination. I was never too old for fairy tales or Disney movies. I was constantly making up stories in my mind and playing “House”, the game of make-believe, probably at an age that would be considered too old. When I thought of my future and being a grown up, I would always imagine me doing so many things. I could have a family, and a job, and a house, and be painter, and be on Broadway, and travel to Africa, and hike the Appalachian Trail, and write a book, and own a lake house, and go on a cross-country road trip, and have pets, and be a ballerina, and the list goes on and on. I wanted to do it all and be it all. I never stopped dreaming of all the possibilities that life had to offer. All the lives I could live, all the adventures I could go on.
As you grow older, a sort of reality hits you. It didn’t hit me until I was almost done with college. I don’t remember the day, what I was doing, or why reality crushed my dreams, but it did. Being an adult comes with attachments. Things like credit card bills, and buying a car, and student loans, and job experience. I wouldn’t just be able to move to California and get an apartment and start a job. It’s a lot harder than it seems. That is a reality for some people, but it’s not mine. And maybe one day it could be and I hope it will be. But the life I was born into doesn’t allow that luxury.
When I write these words I can’t help but call myself out on hypocrisy, because I say this to people all the time: There’s nothing stopping you but yourself. Go. Move. Follow your dreams.
And I do believe that. It’s the dreamer inside me.
But then reality comes swinging back in.
This is my reality: I am 23. I live at home. I have student loans, after working my way though college. I have no idea what I want as a job/career. My mom is a nurse and my dad is a computer technician, who raised and had to provide for 5 daughters. My dreams can become a reality, I just have to work for them.
I look at the that the life I am living, and I am not disappointed in it, it’s just not what I pictured it to be.
I have a routine.
And a desk job.
And I frequent town bars.
I get scared that I am becoming what I always said I didn’t want to become. I get scared I am settling. And that is the most frightening thing I think I have ever experienced.
Because who I am in my mind, and the life I want, is so much more than what I am doing right now. You know the scene in Beauty and the Beast where Belle sings about how she wants adventure? That’s me.
I want to pack a backpack and travel the world. I want to live in a small apartment and write a book. I want to take a ballet class and host dinner parties. I want to teach. I want to work for a nonprofit. I want to volunteer abroad. I want to live in a different country. I want to sip wine under the Eiffel Tower, and cook pasta in Italy. I want to see Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China. I don’t want to live a routine. I don’t want to settle. I want to do it all and be it all. I always have, and I always will.
I’m a dreamer. Some may say that my head is in the clouds and I need to face reality. I need to think about my career growth or starting a family or saving up to buy a house. But I already face reality. That’s why I am living at home. That’ why I have a work cubicle. That’s why I am being an “adult” and becoming financially responsible. That’s why I don’t have a career path. That’s why I continue to read, and watch movies, and make up stories. And that’s why I am writing this.
Because where you are, doesn’t define who you are. The job you hold, doesn’t need to define you. Your dreams can be a reality if you believe in them and you work for them. And I needed to remind myself that.
Give me a few years, and I will be off. I will be like Bilbo Baggins starting his adventure; Peter Pan flying to Neverland; Captain Jack Sparrow cruising the Caribbean in the Black Pearl; A hippie in a Volkswagen bus driving around the country. I will be Grace, off on her adventures she had always dreamed about.