When I Grow Up


I know…I know…right now you’re rolling your eyes at the title of this blog and asking yourself “Isn’t this chick in her 50’s?”

Well…yeah, I am. But my theory is that we never fully grow up. Anyone with husbands can attest to that, right? (sorry honey!).

I remember when I was young, dreaming of my life which felt so vast and unreal (was I really ever going to be old…like 30?). Having grown up near the ocean, my initial pull way back then was to become a marine biologist. I had NO idea what the job entailed, only that I liked the idea of working with whales and dolphins and scuba diving in different exotic places. Keep in mind that I’d only been diving a handful times….in my backyard pool. My dad, a lifelong scuba enthusiast, decided I should probably take after him (especially because I loved the water so much). I think I was 8 or maybe 10 when he strapped that HUGE tank to my back and gave me a crash course in everything scuba. Let’s just say that my experience with the sport stopped there. I always wanted to take lessons and do more with it, but something more important always got in the way.

By the time I hit middle school, my dream of marine biology was fading. Mostly because I realized that I’d probably have to spend years in college….many of those in tough math classes. Let me be clear when I say I despise math on any level. Always have…always will. And you want to hear something crazy…I’ve spent years doing bookkeeping. Uh…dumb-dumb…THAT’S MATH!!!!!!!!!

I’ll just stop right here and apologize for my rambling. It’s something I’m really good at.

So….ANYWAY….as my dreams of being the next Jacques Cousteau faded, in walked my new dream of being the next Madonna. A little backstory here. I’d grown up in a musical family. My dad has played piano his entire life, been in many bands and spent years working a “normal” day job and his nights playing music. My mom also plays piano, but never with the driven intensity that Dad has. The musical genes run thick with my brother and me, although he was gifted with the ability to pick up any instrument and play it and the only instrument I knew how to use was my voice. I took choir in school, had private voice lessons, and for a brief few weeks I was the lead singer in a band. I spent my high school years dreaming about living a life in the spotlight…traveling from one stadium to the next….blah, blah…we’ve heard this all before.

Fast forward to my 40’s. I’d taken a job at an elementary school; the same one both of my kids had attended, where I’d spent many, many hours volunteering. My 5 years at the school taught me so many things, but what I really learned was that I should have become a teacher. I had other teachers encouraging me….go back to school…get your degree. Want to know what held me back? Age? Yeah…I mean who wants to start college from the beginning in their 40’s? I certainly had no desire (or patience) to take a bunch of GE classes, so I shoved that dream aside and settled for the rewarding (very low-paying) job of an aid in the Special Ed department.

Where am I going with all this, do you ask? Hell if I know. I’m just trying to figure out something to post on my blog that won’t put people to sleep.

We start dreaming of our future from the time we’re little. We see ourselves as firemen, ballerinas, doctors. Only a few chosen lucky ones actually see those dreams come true, but I certainly don’t consider flip-floppers like myself any less fortunate. Dreaming is the invisible kick in the pants; that firm shove forward we all need to help us find out who we really are. Most of us, in my opinion, may never really know WHO we are. Take me for example. I’m a wife, mother, daughter. I’m a middle-aged woman who sometimes feels like she’s in her 20’s. I’m a sometimes bookkeeper. I’m an all-the-time writer. I’m as multi-dimensional as the next person…and probably just as boring too.

Let me ask you….are you living the dream you imagined when you were a child? Are you the person you want to be when you grow up?

There are days it feels like my lifespan is endless. Days when I dream of doing this, or doing that. The reality is that my days are as numbered as yours are. And whether those days are numbered in thousands or a handful, we have to live them fully.

Go out there and live your dream. If you’re not living it, find it! Don’t waste your life settling for anything. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have no money and be doing something that makes my heart happy, rather than sitting my butt at a desk every day being miserable.

Yes, I am now living my dream as a writer. Sure, I’d love to do it full-time, but that’s one of those dreams I put right up there with the lottery my dad plays religiously every week. It’s a nice idea…and it’s fun as hell to imagine myself there….but I’m also happily content with my life…just as it is.

In case you’re asking yourself when it is that my dream of writing hit me…the answer to that is…it didn’t. I always liked the idea of it, and in a high school creative writing class I realized it was something I wasn’t half-bad at. But it wasn’t until my 30’s, when I was a young mom raising little kids, that I bought a spiral notebook and tried my hand at writing a book. Some dreams, I suppose, may not be dreams after all. Maybe they are just something we were born to do. A calling perhaps.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

You heard the lady!

AJ

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