My biggest regret in my life thus far is that I didn’t dream big enough. For many years, I only let myself think about really realistic goals that worked within my perception of my religion and my family.
When I was in college I had no less than 4 professionals approach me and try to “recruit” me to their profession.
My economics teacher wrote me a letter and basically said something to the affect: “Girls don’t usually get A’s in my class. You should consider switching to Economics as a major. We need more women in the field.”
One of my education teachers pulled me aside and told me I needed to be in higher education. I shouldn’t stop with a Bachelor’s Degree- “a brain like mine needed to continue”. She offered to write me a letter of recommendation and be my sponsor/mentor while I pursued a Master’s Degree.
The Jr. High principal where I worked as I went to college told me I was wasting my talents as an Elementary School teacher. She thought I needed to be in the Jr. High setting because people like me that work well with Jr. High age kids don’t come around often. I had an unusual gift that needed to be appreciated.
Then there was my dentist from my home town that called me right after I graduated from college. He said, “I know you just finished your degree in education but I want you in my office.” He offered to pay for me to go back to school so I could get another degree in dental hygiene, or he would pay to have me trained as a dental assistant or his office manager. He didn’t care what I did, he just wanted me to work for him.
But I said no to all of these offers because I felt directed to teach elementary school, but also because I didn’t allow myself to dream. I had a small vision of my future. I thought I had to do something that would work well with motherhood. I never considered business or economics or any field that was traditionally male. Since I paid for college all by myself, I didn’t think I could afford higher education. I never even really considered my talents or my passions. I just knew I needed to have a stable job and make some money.
I am not saying I made a wrong choice. I loved my years teaching and I loved my students. I still keep in touch with a handful of them and my memories of those teaching years are dear to my heart. I am able to use my teaching skills every day as a mother. But I do wonder where I would be if I had allowed myself to dream to the fullest extent of my potential. Maybe I would have been a lawyer, a politician, a journalist, a college professor, a sports caster or an ER doc? (I am surprisingly calm under trauma.)
I’ll never know.
But I do know about dreams now and now I want to dream big– past the boundaries of my family and religion. Past other’s expectations and even my own limiting beliefs. I want to dream big even if others think I’m crazy or they don’t think I have the potential.
But where to start?…
As she talked to many amazing women she noted that most of them didn’t feel like they had a right to dream. So she wanted to write a book that encouraged women to dream and that helped them achieve their dreams. The books shares all kinds of stories of women realizing their dreams.
In the book Johnson states, “dreaming is a process. I came to recognize that achieving goals isn’t as much about gaining credentials or training as is is believing in possibilities and being in a place where you can explore possibilities.” I am in that place and I am exploring.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the idea of “dating dreams”– just like dating guys. There is no commitment. No long term investment. You shop around until you find your dream and when you find the right one you know it.
Next I started dating a few of my dreams to see if we were going to work out. I had one dream that I was pretty hot on and then we went out on one or two dates and I dropped him. I might be willing to date his brother in a year or two.
Other dreams I am dating are
Building a home
Writing a book
Living in another country
Homeschooling my kids
Growing my blog
Dating is working for now, but I really want to make a commitment. So when I saw that Whitney Johnson would be in town to speak last week, I signed up to go. As she spoke, a few things that night that really hit home with me.
She said, “It is our privilege to dream.” I needed permission.
Ms. Johnson also said, “We dream to truly grow up.” I am still pondering on this statement, but I get it. And as you dream you discover who you really are. I am ready to do both.
And probably the most significant point she made for me is that we dream so that we can show our children how to dream. We model for them what dreaming looks like and how to follow dreams. She said one of the most influential factors in the life of a child is a parent’s unlived life. As we dream we help our children fill the circle they were meant to fill.
This point sold me. So I am dreaming big so that my kids, but particularly my girls, know they can dream. They can be whatever they want to be or do whatever they want to do. There is no box for them to stay in.
So for now all I have really done is allow myself to dream, but that is huge. I have dated a few dreams and I see myself moving closer to a dream commitment.
And in the meantime I consider what Theologian Fredrick Buechner said: “God calls you to a place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
I am honing in on my ‘deep gladness’ so that I can meet the ‘world’s deep hunger’ and my own. And there will be no regrets this time around.
Dream big with me ladies!