I think I was six when I said, when I grew up I either wanted to be an archeologist or an actress. I loved digging in the dirt, and wanted to either find dinosaurs or Egyptian artifacts. I also loved playing dress up and creating my own version of skits in the back yard with all of my friends. I’ve always loved working with people and finding stories. Ultimately, that is what both of my career choices was about for me. What I didn’t understand as a child, is that both lives don’t always lead to the average living situation with a husband, kids, dog, house, mortgage, car, fence, etc. But you don’t think about those things as a kid.
When we were children it was easy to glamorize a career. It becomes part of our identity, our dream job. Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up—it’s a standard question. It might change as we go through high school and college, depending on our aptitude and what we are exposed to. But generally, we hold onto those dreams, those career goals.
I come from the fairy tale generation. We grew up with Disney, parents who told us we could be anything we wanted to be, and President Clinton telling us that everyone deserved to go to college. The trouble is, once through college, or stepping into the real world, we try our dream out. We stretch our legs and try out our skills… but it sometimes isn’t enough, or isn’t the right fit. As adults we still dream about a career or a goal, especially in the ones that are continually in our faces. The sane ones that we can judge on the surface, but don’t understand the depths of what they actually take to live them.
I’m approaching my five year anniversary in New York. It’s a very exciting milestone, for me. I have survived one of the most brutal cities, and have been somewhat successful in the career I wish to be in. The buckets of money have yet to arrive for my performances, however, I feel like I’m successful in my persistence in this career, as well as my achievements. However, as an actor I’m continually terrified. Terrified of when my next creative job will arrive. Terrified of where the money will come from. Terrified by the dozens of friends, who are just as talented, who quit the business and move home. Its an alarmingly large rate of people who attempt this city, only to return home a year or three later. They have either seen the dark side of the dream, accomplished the dream and didn’t achieve the level of happiness they wanted, or did and are ready for a new dream.
The thing about dreams is they keep us going. They give us something to wake up in the morning for. They give our life excitement and challenge. Drive is so important in life. Something or someone to wake up for is a necessity in life. However, we do grow and change and our life and choices form us, and remold us into different adults. We look back and forward at the same time and wonderwhat we really want to achieve. Some of my friends have gotten to the point in their lives and realize that what they really want out of life isn’t offered by their chosen career. Other friends figured this out in college, or just after, and diverted their path towards other things like children, or homes, or staying in the town they grew up. And that is perfectly fine. Point: sometimes the dream we have had in our head since childhood isn’t the one we really want to achieve.
Sometimes this stifles us. Sometimes it releases us. What is it that you are really dreaming? Do you want a specific job? Or perhaps a way of life, instead?
Start with your current dream: What is it?
Maybe get a piece of paper or something to make notes. And be honest with yourself.
—What attracts you to it–this dream? Is it the goal itself or what the goal will bring? (for instance, if you want to be an actor, do you want to actually be a part of the craft, or do you want to be famous, or do you want to have money?)
—Why are you attracted to that aspect? (if it’s the craft, is it because you love that you can become someone else? You like bringing life to someone else’s words? If its famous, do you like that it can open doors? Do you like that you can be charitable to whomever you want to? Do you like that your picture will be everywhere? If it’s the money, what do you want to do with that money? Do you think that getting the money is easy by acting?)
—What are you doing to achieve that goal? (Are you auditioning daily? Are you watching movies and reading gossip magazines? Are you only dreaming?)
—What is stopping you from going after the goal? Fear? No talent? No connections? Family/job/money stopping you? (If its fear—do you really want it? If its talent—why are you still drawn to it? If its no connections—why don’t you have them, as in do you need to start looking, or go back to school, or network? If its family/your job/money—are you sure you’re not making excuses only to keep you from it?
—If you had to give up everything and only choose one: your family, your dream, your security—which would you choose?
Think about your answers to the questions. Maybe the dream you’re dreaming isn’t the right focus.
Social media gives us a great view of society and sociology. Many people post what they love most and what they are most proud of on social media. What are you posting? Also, what makes you jealous, no matter how slight, when friends post it—why does this make you feel that way?
I dreamt of being an actress. I’m still in the process of making that happen, bumps and bruises, rejection, and the lack of having a “regular life” make it frustrating and mildly unappealing to me. That is my inside view. I look at Facebook and how people I went to college and high school with are married with children and enjoying their lives, while I sit, single in NYC. But I did dream the right dream. Maybe if you sit, looking out your window at others, you should take a look at what you really want and desire. Start with my questions above and analyze yourself. If you need help, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dreams are amazing. They pull us through the drudge of daily life. But, if it’s the wrong dream, it could be detrimental to your spirit. What do you really want? Re-tailor your life to that dream!
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(Art by de la vega, photo by Live ClareLesley)