I don’t know how to dream big. I barely know how to dream.
I blame depression: it robs one of the ability to dream. During my depressive episodes, my goals were limited to:
- don’t cry in public;
- Ok fine, I cried in public, but I won’t wipe my nose with my hand;
- I’ll hold it together long enough to just go home, and hide and cry privately;
- I’ve been crying in my bed and sleeping for 13 hours. I’ll take a shower;
- Fine, I’ll take a shower tomorrow;
- I showed up at work! I’ll eat chocolate as a reward. Who cares about my weight goals, body confidence and fitness goals – there is no point looking good, I can’t face being seen by anyone, I’ll die a cat-less cat-lady.
It is hard to dream about anything at all, when one’s overriding concern is to continue showing up at work, faking being normal, and doing a passable enough job so as to not get fired. Dreams were just reminders of how I was failing at every day life. If I didn’t have dreams, I’d have less things to feel shame about.
Until recently, I didn’t question that mental pattern. But lately, as I cautiously explore vulnerability, and vaguely remember what it is to feel alive, I am irked by my inability to dream big.
I’m surrounded by (non-accountants) individuals who have big dreams and are toiling away with various degrees of success towards their ambition.
- Dynamo‘s older brother told me 4 years ago that he would move to Dubai, become a successful entrepreneur and marry a “girl more beautiful than a movie star”. Today, his company is booming and he is happily married to his gorgeous wife. I helped him with some of the earliest aspects of the company. 4 years have gone by and I am still living in Montréal, pursuing my career at a tranquil pace. The only news in my life is that I’ve lost some weight, temporarily beat depression and started a minor blog; in all other respects my life is the same as it was then.
- My cousin’s husband announced one day that he was starting a company. 3 years later, he is getting nominated for all kinds of awards in his field.
- Voilàaaa has become a succesful savate trainer in the space of 1 year, and is expanding his business into several side ventures.
I chose accounting as my career because I didn’t have any passions. Unlike some friends, I never knew I wanted to be a doctor or a teacher or a musician. I wanted nice shoes and to eat in fancy restaurants. I wanted a skill set that would always be valued in the marketplace regardless of changes in technology or health of the economy. Moreover, I wanted a career that would allow me to relocate, and have my qualifications recognized easily regardless of the jurisdiction I settled down in. Most importantly, I wanted a career with stability and salary levels that would allow me to live a comfortable lifestyle and support me and my unborn babies, the day my mythical husband decided to bail on us and upgrade for a bimbo younger woman. My CPA title meets these objectives. Yet, I have a bitter aftertaste every time I think of it. I chose this career from a place of profound negativity and cynicism. Thank goodness, by fluke, I have the brains to do this job well. But my career reminds me that for years, my biggest goal was just to guard against whatever crap the Universe threw my way.
At the gym, there are several pro-boxers, all of whom want to one day be world champions. Fight by fight, they are getting closer to their goal. One of the boxers had his chance at 2 world title belts. Yes, he lost his fights, but his dogged pursuit of a goal that big fills me with respect. It makes me uncomfortable to acknowledge that in his shoes, I would never have allowed myself to dream of being world champion – I would have viewed it as presumptious and cocky. I’d be content with just being a pro-boxer, capable of living off my boxing fights. I’d settle for mediocrity, while telling myself that modesty is a virtue.
My current dreams are tame. Mundane.
- Own a home
- Win a few boxing fights, preferably without any concussions
- Get a promotion in the next 2 years
- Find a man who loves me enough to stay true indefinitely
- Travel to a new place 1x a year
Part of me is proud for even acknowledging that I want these things. I only did so recently, in the past 9 months, as the cloud of depression receeded. I’m 31, and my goals are the same as most 25 year-olds. Depression robbed me of 6 years of my life.
But that isn’t enough. I want to be like the boxers at my gym. Have a goal that is so big, it is almost statistically impossible. Ludicrous. Presumptious. Cocky. I want to work towards greatness, and possibly fail along the way, instead of just wallowing in mediocrity and the mundane.
Except… I do not know how to dream.
I really enjoyed this post and it has me thinking. For many years my life was chaos and I still struggle with maintaining stability and tranquility in my life. It can be a challenge for me to be good. So my goals are much like yours. They are small and achievable but when put together they amount to a life that is functional. And functional is a big deal for me. But maybe it’s time to put out a larger, bigger, goal and see what happens.
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