Let the dreams begin again

I have a dream and that is something that is really rather scary for me to admit. For the longest time I haven’t had any dreams. I made a few plans but always I opted for the path of least resistance and sort of drifted through my late teens and early twenties.

The last time I can remember having a dream, a real, honest to god, burning lamp of a dream that focused my entire being was when I was twelve and determined to be a vet. For as far back as I can remember being focused on these things (I’m not counting childish desires to be a princess or walk on the moon) I wanted to work with animals. I was always a practical child so the dream of becoming a dog breeder was put to one side and I focused all my energy on getting into veterinary school.

This is something that is very hard to do in the UK as there are only six universities that do the course and you need to be freakishly bright to even stand a chance. Well, I am freakishly bright as it turns out, so why the hell not? I won my scholarship to Hogwarts which meant I was best placed to get the best (and most appropriate) GSCEs. I got spankingly good grades in them, which meant I could go and do the A levels I wanted to do. Or rather, the A levels I needed to do, but as want/need were one and the same at this point, I didn’t mind doing the three sciences.

I even enjoyed it.

But thank whatever made me choose a fourth (Archaeology) as a way to leaven the mix of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, because I didn’t make it into any of my four choices for university. I’m not saying I failed at interview stage either. Oh no. I wasn’t even invited to interview.

Which sucked some what.

What sucked more was that my best friend got an interview from all four universities, got an offer from two, and is (as I type) a practicing vet. But I’m not bitter.

I don’t really remember much of the rest of that year at college. I know I finished the year and I still got good grades, and at some point I made the decision to go to do Archaeology somewhere (leading to the true story of choosing my undergraduate university by sticking a pin in a list). But how or when that decision got made I have no clear idea even to this day.

With the complete failure of my veterinary dream – and, I will admit, a healthy dollup of severe depression for several years – I just started coasting. Get a sparklingly brilliant BSc? Cool. Go do an MSc somewhere. In what? Well, you’ve enjoyed Archaeology so far, why not continue? Can’t decide what to research – there could be worse things than something your supervisor mentions over a cup of tea. Need a job? Work for the local authority because they pay reasonably well and the interview to get on the temp pool wasn’t exactly stringent.

Even the job I am doing at the moment, which I enjoy immensely and give everything to, just kinda… happened. Bright Meadow kinda… happened. Everything for the past five years has just kinda… happened, without any input on my part.

I’ve enjoyed it all and really couldn’t think of things I would rather have been doing along the way, but by no stretch of the imagination has any of it been part of a dream.

Till now.

Now my brain has hooked onto the whole London/publishing/editing thing and refuses to let go. It excites me. I am starting to plan for it. I am starting to dream about it.

Which scares ten kinds of shit out of me because the things I dream of, plan for, and look forward to have a disastrous tendency to fall flat on their face and (on one particularly memorable occasion) have even ended up with me in hospital.

At the same time, the very fact I can dream again is a brilliant sign.

I do not want to be one of those people who coasts through life. I cannot be happy as that person. I talk to people with no drive or desire to change their lot on a day-to-day basis, and at some level I just do not understand that. One of my friends recently decided not to go to university to pursue his teaching dream, choosing instead to get a temp job doing something or other menial that doesn’t use his brain. I accept not everyone is suited to university, but I cannot understand someone who lets their dream float on by because it might be “a little hard”.

I am being judgmental and I shouldn’t because I love the boy dearly, but it escapes me. I don’t understand settling for something. If I am being very honest here, I am afraid of settling for something. I can very easily see myself ten years down the line, settled in a job similar to what I am doing now, sunk into the malaise that seems to pervade long-term employees of my organisation. Not that they mind it, really. It’s easy. They’ve settled. They’ve given up on the dream.

When you act on your dreams you have to step outside what is safe. You run the risk of getting hurt in ways you can’t even imagine. Yes, I am scared it will all go horribly wrong, but I’ve tried easy. I’ve tried safe. Safe and easy bore me. Give me something that stretches me. Give me something to reach for. In my dreams I shine – Heaven help me, but I’ve got my ability to dream back. Don’t let me watch the opportunity fly past my office cubicle window, please?

21 thoughts on “Let the dreams begin again

  1. Reading that gives me an eerie feeling that tells me that I know EXACTLY what you mean. Only difference is I am still a long way of discovering what I want to actually do, hell, I’m still battling depression to get back to where I can do safe and easy without external support. Even so, that burning mix of raw desire and almost nausious uncertainlty is quite intoxicating in it’s own way, am I right?

  2. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

    I did last summer: Gave up my job, went to Italy with no idea if I’d be employed or on the PhD when I returned, no idea if I might have to move to York to start my career in archaeology, or how I would pay my rent between September and December, that and the not-spouses business was in the process of collapse. 18 months later I’m a year into my PhD and loving every minute of it, and would not change my decision for the world (except when things are going wrong!!). It was VERY scary, but worth it.

    I wrote myself a letter for if it ever got really really bad and I wanted to give up, written when I was in a totally positive frame of mind, about why I was doing it, what I knew I would get out of it, and how much believed in my ability to do it. I’ve not yet needed to open it, but the process of writing it was very powerful 🙂

  3. M – you’ll get there 🙂 And yes. It’s a really heady mix!

    Neko – good idea. I might have to do that… Or just remember to check back here on Bright Meadow when I’m not feeling so positive! (Note the use of ‘when’ in that sentence, not if…)

  4. I totally agree you should just go for it – although it’s not that easy to do as say. I sort of found what I wanted to do as the web didn’t even exist when I was picking careers, I just knew that I wanted to be creative and do engineering technical stuff (back then it wasn’t even really programming it was being an engineer). I also think that the sacrifices you may have to give up to do it are what makes it even more worthwhile – at one point I did 2 jobs with the day working an employed one and the night doing client work. The lack of sleep makes the times when I am able to sit back a bit more now so more delicious.

    One thing you have to remember is that even in your dream job you will have bad days and sucky mondays – the thing is somehow they are more bearable. I say build up slowly and day by day, week by week get there. Break what you want down into ‘doables’. Look at time scales – it sounds sad but having a calendar where you can ‘see’ time plodding to where you are going helps. In the end that big move is a lot like removing a sticky plaster though – you just have to jump feet first and rip it off.

  5. I know I will…although it’s the first time in..well…as long as I can remember that I have felt that way. Looking forward to talking to you down the Dungeon sometime : )

  6. Wow the first half of that blog was part of out chat from Goblets last week … almost word for word , WOW thats quite a memory you’ve got there.

    I’m another person who’s “facing his daemons” and following my dream almost broke me in half but i’m getting better and i’ve redefined my dream .

    The way I see it there’s actually a lot of stock that you can put in to the old saying “what doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger” and to up the geek quotient a fair amount the Fox clan motto ” Knock me down seven times i’ll get up eight”

  7. I guess I am one of those sad people who have settled. My dream was archaeology, but it didn’t quite work out. I got my BA and MA, but could not find a job that I could live on. I was unemployed and under-employed for two years and finally had to make a career change. I applied to a GIS job out of desperation. I had made maps as an archaeologist, so why not? I didn’t think I had a chance. But got the job and I have been there for two and a half years.

    I like my job and especially the people I work with, but I can’t see myself doing this forever. I was so scarred by my time as an “unemployed archaeologist” that I am afraid to change.

    I want to be a writer, I want to illustrate books, but I’m probably not any good. I could do those things on the side, but then what do I do for a day job? I have searched for a new career choice, but I haven’t found anything that I can be passionate about – not at least as much as archaeology, writing and art.

    So my point (I think I have one). If you have the motivation, go for it!!! The GIS thing was a long shot, but it may lead to something, even if my current job isn’t where I want to be.

  8. Kirbs: I’d forgotten that clan motto 🙂 I think it is my favourite, and how I apply myself to life.

    Cas- the letter thing really works. I know the blog helps, but in the letter you can say all kinds of things (no-one except me will ever read mine).

    Inquisitor: HUG You’ll get there.

    Tammie: totally agreed- Mondays do still suck epically from time to time (having a bad day here :()- but that is why the letter exists!

  9. Karmatosed – timescales seem like a good idea. But then I just get depressed when I don’t/can’t stick to them. There really are few more demoralising things in this world than watching deadlines sail blithely on by. I’m the queen of last minute and not planning! Plus I always was one for peeling the plaster off slowly… I’m just not brave enough for the all-in-one approach.

    Inquisitor Mence – tis a date 🙂

    Kirbs – *whisper* can you not let everyone in on how much of this blog is “written” through drunken conversations with my friends down the pub? I don’t want people to think I’m trying out material on them!
    But you’re right. In some cases dreams aren’t realistic. There do have to be times when you admit things can’t go on, have a sit back and think, and them come back with something better suited. There’s no shame in having a go and saying “actually, that’s not for me”.
    I will admit that it’s a case of do as I say, not do as I do here – it’s taken me half a decade to listen to my own advice!

    64BakerSt – see previous comments about there being no shame in taking the long road. So long as you’re happy, that’s the important thing. Unemployed archaeologist? Wow! That sounds like a very familiar tune! As another totally unemployable archaeologist, I feel your pain. However, something good will happen. I’m sure of it, and if you can’t trust the words of a random girl on the internet, who can you trust?
    As for the writing/illustrating thing, well I can’t speak for whether or not you’re any good at it, but if you enjoy doing it do it anyway.

    Neko – check on the letter, though you know how bad I am at writing to people, even myself!

  10. (Whisper) Sorry (Whispering time is over)… But hay im glad you consider me a friend and not just some new weirdo 🙂

  11. We’re all wierdos here Mr. Kirby…that’s the way we like it 😛

    Anyway, settling down isn’t a bad thing, it just isn’t for everyone. As you say, it’s just a question of what makes you happy, one person might need to strive for something new every day, whicle others see utopia as a job a house and the man/woman of your derams. I think half the problem is that so few of us actually know what we really want.

  12. And yet narrowing down what you want to do seems to be the hardest part (at least for me). I’m glad you’ve found a new direction, and wish you all the luck with it.

    BTW, though this is my first time to post, I’ve actually been lurking in the background since Terisia, and plan to continue doing so for a good time to come, cheering from the sidelines, so to speak.


  13. Shadow, you’re right. The finding what I want to do has been the hardest part for me. And it’s nice to know you’re there, even if it is just lurking on the sidelines 🙂

  14. Yo yo Cas, this is such a great way to swap ideas, and all gratitude to Cas for creating such a fabulous meeting place, she’s a great host and I know she works so hard for bright meadow and the enjoyment of those using it. Simply fantastic. Talking about goals and ambitions is great, cos I think everyone has them in some way, you want to be a better person, you want a better career, no matter where your from or who you do I think thats inside you. For me it’s a compromise its got to be, its hard to imagine me ever being a teacher, though that would be great, but I’ve got real limitations so I think I’ll do something that involves teaching, but doesn’t place the whole emphasis on it. And I’m not to sure how important it is for someone to achieve there goals, as long as you are reasonable content, I think its just good that you want to do better, its just good that you want to go in the right direction and its just good that you’ve got the desire to work at it. You may not get there but if your trying then that’s what matters. I’m touched you wrote you love the boy, he loves you too! Three cheers for Cas!!! hip hip horrray…

  15. Curious George/Phil: Yay! You stopped by! And thank for those lovely words. I’m blushing and quite at a loss with what to say 😳

    And I’ll agree with what you say. It’s not necessarily achieving the goals that’s important, it’s either being happy with where you are, or working positively to get to a place where you can be happy. It’s been that first step that’s been the hardest for me, the letting myself acknowledge that I want to move on, that it’s ok to do that, and that it’s ok it’s going to take me a while to get where I want to go.

  16. Pingback: Letters to Myself « Girl with Trowel

  17. I dreamt about becoming a member of the engineers club but destiny turned back on me and now I can say with a sincere heart that I am happy with my job: psychologist – guess I was meant to do this.

  18. I’m happy you’re one of the lucky one’s who has found their niche Cristian, and welcome to Bright Meadow and the comments 🙂

  19. Pingback: Sunday Roast: cheese is particularly troublesome « Bright Meadow 2

Comments are closed.