In this case I am not referring to dreams when you are asleep dreams (though obviously those can also be nightmares; like the one I had yesterday where all the hardware disappeared from my handbag and my laptop crumbled in my hands…*shudder*) Anyway. I’m talking about the other kind of dream. The “Dream big!” kind. The “Dream come true!” kind. The kind that has the thing(s) you really, really want in this slice of existence.
Depending on personal philosophy, parenting, mental imbalances, and available cash we all have different perceptions of how possible acquiring or fulfilling our dreams will be, and deciding what our dreams are. Sometimes our dreams choose us, but either way people and circumstances are going to get in your way and every challenge presents the possibility of giving up on the dream, or getting past what’s in your way and getting a little bit closer. This part we’re all familiar with.
But what about when you find out you are finally going to meet your dream and you’re plagued with a month-long panic attack that you are going to completely fuck it up in some way? No one talks about that part. That’s where the wands come in during Disney movies. And upbeat music montages are edited in during all other movies. No one shares the step between trying your hardest and singing on the mountain top, where you hyperventilate, and eat chocolate with every breath, and you develop a twitch trying to suppress crazy eyes every time someone asks if “you’re excited??” (It is also possible I have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder, but lets ignore that for the time being).
To be clear, I am not saying “be careful what you wish for” because I do not believe that dreaming is the time to be careful. I believe the opposite in fact. Dream as if there are no consequences whatsoever. But this phase, the post-struggle-pre-having stage is the time for care and planning and details. Evidently it is also the time for alcohol. Or whatever form of relaxation and heart rate reduction you prefer. Because the reality of something that has only ever manifested in your imagination is overwhelming and feeling all the feels associated with its fruition is part of the experience. I wouldn’t give up these moments of helpless emotional and physical gasping (even if I will self medicate them) because it just goes to show how monumentously great it is to wrap your hands around the object of your obsession/affection/heart’s desire.
If it isn’t an overwhelmingly great thing to have, is it worth wanting in the first place? I’m calling it a win. I’m also calling my mother. If you haven’t let anything get between you and what you want, don’t let fear be the thing that does.
When I am feeling particularly altruistic it’s easy to think about how lucky we all are, and how much we have compared to less fortunate individuals in our communities, and in the world. But, I can’t help thinking that it would be a disservice to all that many of us are blessed with to simply feel guilty or lucky, and do nothing with it. In the interest of best serving fate, it is our responsibility as intelligent, classy, beautiful, compassionate women to fulfill our every potential.
Sadly, putting this sort of thinking into practice is not simple or easy. For some reason it’s perfectly alright to want one thing, and to work towards getting that one thing is admirable. But this thing must, of course, be attainable and within reason. And your desires must be limited to this one thing or you are being greedy. Or crazy. About a thing that doesn’t even exist yet. Evidently “Dream Big” looks great sewn on a pillow, but to actually practice it is to insult those who don’t want more or dream of what you already have.
I call bullshit.
Ambition and drive and confidence and dedication have not historically been considered very feminine qualities, but we know that to be a fallacy, and it’s time to start acting like it. If Natalie Portman can represent Dior, pick and choose the best acting jobs, graduate from Harvard, make perfect Jewish babies, speak three languages, and live part time in Paris with her hot ballerina lover man then we can certainly go after the job, apartment, car, and lover man that we want. Awareness of reality should definitely hang in the balance, but it shouldn’t hold veto power, and you should never feel guilty for wanting more than you have. It is human nature to strive, and setting goals is healthy. This doesn’t mean that you stop living until you achieve everything that you want, or invest your ability to be happy in attaining these goals. The journey is the fun part, and wanting something slightly beyond the realm of what you think you can have makes you that much more invested in trying to get it.
You are going to have critics. Especially from those who come from another generation, and operate from a very “happy with what you have” standpoint. And they’re not wrong. You should be happy with what you have, and appreciate how fortunate you are in the grand scheme of the universe. And then you can plot your non-hostile, and gracefully executed takeover.
I want my cake, I want to eat it, and then I want an ice cream chaser.
As much evidence as there is to the contrary, I do actually make an effort to not make this blog full of whining and complaining. Generally, the last thing anyone wants to read is someone else bitching, so today you have fair warning. There is going to be lots of privileged white girl complaining, but I’ll try to make it cool.
I have always taken issue with the phrase “supposed to”. It is applied far too liberally, encourages pigeon-holing and stereotyping, and limits thinking, which probably bothers me the most. I am a big fan of thinking. If society, or your school, or your boss, or your mom tells you that you are “supposed to” respond and behave in pre-determined ways then there is no need figure those things out for yourself; and too many people, when given the opportunity, will choose not to think or make decisions. Perhaps it’s ridiculous, but I believe that even if what you do ends up being the same as if you’d simply done what you were told, motivation matters. You should always be able to answer the question – why did you do that? Maybe it’s because I’m a control freak and over-thinking everything gives me a sense of ownership over my sad life, but let’s over-analyse that later.
I have been dealing with some stress and tension in relation to the fact that I am doing my life wrong. For some reason the “supposed to” list I made for myself has far more hold over my psyche than any and all others. Judge as you will. Everyone has expectations for their life – even the assholes who hit on me claiming they live in the moment and would like to offer me the distinct privilege of fucking them silly – or so I have to assume to preserve what little faith I have in humanity. And inevitably there are things on that list that are subject to change, and elements you are bound to give up due to circumstance (I accept that I will never ride a Pegasus – really, I do) but there are some that you count on, that if you satisfy all of the pre-requisites for, you expect to happen in accordance with the laws of logic and your tiny universe. For me, this included employment after graduating from a very expensive private university. Granted I got a taste of my dream job, which is more than most people can say, ever, but the vision for the year I turn twenty-five had a house in it that only I lived in. With a room with words all over the walls for me to write in, an extra car in the garage just for weekends, and a puppy. Maybe a little much, depending on what you’re comparing it to, but I’ve never lacked confidence.
It’s all well and good to wax internet poetic with your take what you want/seize the day/kick the world’s ass memes, but in my experience all of those require money (or maybe that’s only the things I want – not that I want to be a dragon with a pile of money, though a dragon would make all the travelling I do want to do more cost-effective). And because of…oh let’s just blame the world and you can apply whatever spiritual/ political/ financial/ etc. nuances you like to it… so, because of the world I mostly write things that no one reads in the back bedroom of my parents house, working as a mildly inappropriate substitute teacher, desperately trying to show my gratitude for all of those things by being polite and accommodating and helpful, when really I can’t stop mentally re-evaluating how I ended up here, with no puppy. And it’s no one’s fault, not even mine. I send out more resumes than I’m going to admit to, and interview for jobs with health insurance (some of which I actually want), and I’m super nice, so I just have to tell myself that they are only hiring inter-galactic alien robots and thus I have no reason to feel inadequate and panicky about not meeting their criteria. This existence simply is. For no reason.
Everyone’s go-to comforting comment is that “You’re so young!”, or at least it was. I try not to talk about depressing topics with people, so I don’t talk about myself much lately thus making the placating comments less necessary. But the reality is I am very quickly coming to the transition from “you’re so young”, barreling straight into “God, you’re no spring chicken, get your shit together”. Even if I do all the things I wanted to have done by now, no one will be nearly as impressed by them as they would have been. Alexander conquered the known world by the time he was 25, everyone is going to remember that; Hillary paid off her Corolla by age 24 simply does not have the same ring to it.
This means that my real problem is chilling the fuck out. And acknowledging the need for frolicking in perfect joy over parents who semi-enjoy me living in their back bedroom (despite how much more together their shit was at my age). And to continue sending resumes to everyone and begging people to read things (and mentioning my future plans for space travel and a bionic arm) and making strange phone calls because that’s all there is for an over-educated group babysitter to do combat this “world” problem we’re having. I also get to tell my recently college graduated sister that her new life choices are graduate school forever or the beautiful example of bitter hagdom I have set while making any money you can doing whatever someone will pay you for that won’t make it necessary to stop using forks. No one cares what you majored in. Or she can get married and have babies and get food stamps – it’s totally on trend again. I also reserve the right to hate her and her entire graduating class forever if things actually work out for the little bastards.
Of course I’m not quite so jaded that I don’t still harbor a tiny pearly, shiny, sparkle of delusion that one day soon I will be the exception to all this crap and get everything I want all at once. At which point I will deny I ever wrote this. And fly away on my Pegasus. Just like Lena Dunham.
I’ve made it in Hollywood! Kind of. Sort of. Hopefully…
I got my dream job on a cable show that I can not expressly identify because I would get in trouble, but mostly because I don’t need you people stalking me. Now, more than ever, I know the massive difference between convincing your self that everything will work out one day and having had it work out – thus justifying all of that hope. Suddenly I can join the ranks of the “There were only those 9 months between graduating from college and getting the job I hoped I’d get” and finally leave behind the all too large club of “It’s been 9 months since graduation and I’ve accomplished exactly nothing- I’ll have to go to the reunion with a bag on my head”. Granted, I’m not actually on a writing staff or anything, but knowing that many people (including not a few who will read this) want to kill me and take over my job is satisfaction enough. Writers’ PA is still a PA and there is lots of getting of coffee, lunch, and other foodstuffs but I’m definitely one of the better paid coffee runners in the world, and obviously those aren’t my only responsibilities. The Show Bible- the mythical document they told us about at TV school that holds inside it all that you ever need to know about a given program is not only available for me to lay hands upon, but is now written by me. It may not end up on the air, but it’s pretty freaking amazing.
Not to mention the obvious advantages of being the conduit to the writers for everyone on set and in production, thus meeting everyone and making myself invaluable. I’m now 10 feet away from the writers’ room, which is significantly closer than the innumerable miles (both literal and metaphorical) that separated us when I was substitute teaching.
My whole universe has flipped on its head as a result of this momentous shift- most definitely for the good- but the whole whirlwind is a wee bit overwhelming. Within two weeks I have the job I’ve wanted since the fateful day I said goodbye to my English major, and I’m on the verge of moving out of my parents house for the second, and hopefully more permanent, time. I’m also leaving the few friends I have back home, but to be entirely honest between 12 hour work days and my propensity for sleeping I don’t know when I’ll have the time to talk to anyone anyway.
I’d write more, but my current state of semi-consciousness is only being maintained by taking over the part of my brain that forms words. Going non-verbal until I get a nap.