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.
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?