dreams: thinking about the future

Monday, January 16, 2017

What do you answer when someone asks you what your dreams are?

I don't mean the kind when you're sleeping, but the dreams you have when you're awake, the dreams of the future.

I was asked this recently and by "asked" I mean tagged in a post on Instagram... and by "recently", I mean it happened months ago and I haven't let it go.

It stumped me. Legit.

Initially I was thrilled to have been called upon to answer "aw thanks" and I sat and stared blankly at the "comment" bar as I realized I had no idea what my answer was.

I read through the other answers, so concrete and well thought-out. The only things I could come up with were arbitrary hopes for my children and what kind of house I'd like to live in.

The challenge for me was when I tried to picture where I would be and what I would be doing, I could imagine everyone around me, my loved ones and what they might be doing, but I couldn't see myself in a place that I wanted to be because I didn't know what that place was.

I felt a lump in my stomach. It was as if all the confidence and self-awareness I thought I had suddenly got knocked out of me.

Ashamed and somewhat embarrassed that I, as a Social Worker, someone who has spent a significant amount of time analyzing where I come from and talking about the importance of fulfillment,  haven't taken the time to re-evaluate who I am and where I want to be...

I mean I know who I am, I know what I value, but the more the focus of my life has been on my children, my family, the more lost my non-child related goals have gotten. It's like all other things faded into the hazy background from that first positive pregnancy test and it's hard to remember what they looked like before they got so blurry.

It's not to say the focus on my children is misplaced, it's not. It's not to say that they won't always be my primary concern, they will, always, but there's room for me in there too, there has to be. Right?

I have friends watching their children go off to college and university and I know they have ideas about what they, as 'empty-nesters' will do now, the adventures they will go on and all the dreams for themselves they will see come to fruition.

I don't want to be the person who doesn't know who she is when she's not taking care of children. I can't be that woman who doesn't know what she wants other than the best for someone else.

That's not enough for me.

Having hopes and aspirations, not just for those you love, but for yourself and living your passion is something I hold of great importance. The thing is, those hopes, aspirations and passions change. They need to be constantly re-evaluated. Unfortunately, the chaos of life doesn't always allow for
that coveted 'alone time' to think of all the things. This might be one of those things, for me, that is worth making time for. This might be one of those times where I greet that voice in the back of my mom-brain saying "you're being selfish" with a "no, I'm honoring myself, the person who takes care of all of these other people, that person needs care too, she's important too".

When we ask what people's dreams are, we assume they have an answer. We assume that all people have some idea in their head where they'd like to end up but perhaps that's not the case. 

Thinking about this same question now, even weeks later, I still don't have an answer. I can still quickly tell you my hopes for my children, my husband, even friends and family, but for me personally, it's still unclear.

For a while I was self-conscious about this and not wanting to admit that I didn't have some goal, however abstract or unrealistic, but I feel differently now. For me it's more about the process. I still can't see an ideal end place but I can see a 'next step' and that's the important part.

Sometimes we get so overwhelmed about some distant reality that we lose sight of all the small steps between our present and that distant hypothetical 'ideal place'.

I'm showing myself a little grace (we could all use more of that) and instead of pressuring myself to come up with a destination, I'm starting the journey. I am starting to ask myself the question - what would make ME happy (assuming everyone around me is taken care of)...? |There aren't answers yet and I don't imagine it's going to be quick or easy, but what good things ever are?

Looking back, I'm thankful I was tagged in that post, no matter how silly I felt at the time about not having an answer, and even though I STILL don't have one, I am at least thinking about the possibilities and taking some steps in the right direction... don't they say it's all in the journey? Well, here I go...