Dare to dream.
When I was a child, I told myself: I’m going to become the best friend of the Crocodile Hunter, the next Nancy Drew, a Doctor, heck, maybe even the President of the United States.
Well, the Crocodile Hunter dream is dashed leaving me at a gravestone, the only mystery I’ve ever solved is where I lost my keys (and sometimes I have to outsource that problem to my family members), I’m a nurse’s assistant and totally broke, also unwilling to take out loans, so med school is out of the question, and well, to be honest, I have absolutely no desire to be the President of the United States anymore.
The moment I graduated high school, I thought, “Here I am! Starting life!”
Then, I went to classes and I realized that in some ways, nothing had really changed since high school. My body looked more womanly, my age moved up about one or two years as time moved forward but I still looked basically the same, my friends moved away leaving me alone, my classes got easier actually (although much harder to get into on registration morning), I got a couple of jobs to make a few bucks, but really, I felt like the whole thing was a total letdown.
This got me kind of discouraged.
“Well, I guess this is why they call it ‘the old grind,’” I told myself despairingly, as I dragged myself through another day.
I took a Medical Terminology class this semester and the professor invited a local satellite master’s university promotional team come to our class to promote their school. They talked about moving to a master’s degree and beyond.
To be honest, I ditched that dream the first time I saw what it cost to go to a four year university and how absolutely little I got in the form of scholarships despite my community service and perfect grades. Masters was absolutely out of the question. Going anything beyond that was truly laughable.
So when these guys came in preaching “Challenge yourself,” I just rolled my eyes.
“If you’ve got the money, you can challenge yourself however much you want. But some of us are living at home with our parents, caring for a grandmother with dementia, and working a low end job to help ease the family’s financial burden of food, lights, groceries, basic items of necessity, and more. I stopped dreaming of ridiculous things like that a long time ago.”
But then I thought to myself, “You know, there was a day when you once dared to dream of achieving more than what you’ve settled for. There was a day when you said you wanted to become a physician. You wanted a PhD. You wanted to travel and treat people. You wanted to change lives and offer hope in the medical world. You wanted to learn and never stop learning.”
I really don’t want to be a doctor anymore for a variety of reasons I won’t get into here.
However, I did start investigating getting a master’s degree in nursing. I attended a nursing meeting at my school (I swear, they could create a semester long class on the process of getting ready to apply to nursing programs).
I asked the academic counselor at the meeting what the step was beyond a bachelor’s degree of nursing if you wanted to climb the chain. He surprised me by explaining that the master’s option was created more for people who had a bachelor’s in another field and wanted to become an RN in a career change. If you get a BSN right off the bat, he said the next step is not masters of nursing, but rather, becoming a nurse practitioner.
I went home and stewed on that one.
I don’t know. Could I pull that off?
I crawled under the covers of my warm bed and tried to weigh the pros and cons and eventually, I decided that Nurse Practitioner was something I’d like.
But could I dare to dream? Could I let myself dream again after so long closing doors before they had even been opened for me simply because I’d let the logistics in life deter me from even dreaming of trying?
It couldn’t hurt to dream, could it?
So I did.
I dreamed. I dreamed of what I could become, what I could achieve, and the lives I could touch. I dreamed of myself drowning in textbooks and surviving long days. I dreamed of struggling and I dreamed of overcoming. I dreamed of saving up enough money to make my dream come true.
I dreamed, dreamed, and then dreamed some more.
The next day, I told my family and my boyfriend, “I think, after I get my RN, I’d like to work a few years, feel how things are, and consider going for my Nurse Practitioner. Do you guys see any reason why I shouldn’t?”
Nobody did. In fact, they supported my dream.
I liked this…this dreaming thing.
I could do this a little more often.
My boyfriend and I were sitting warm and snuggly on the couch under about five blankets in order to keep the chill back.
“Would you like to go on a walk with me?” He asked me, breaking the silence.
He knew I loved walks. Walks to me, are incredibly simple and special times of bonding, getting fresh air, and making memories together (and very affordable).
But to be honest, it was REALLY cold that night, and part of me was a little worried, because I get really bad heart palpitations when I get cold.
As if reading my mind, he added, “We’ll bundle up good. The whole nine yards. Sweatshirts, coats, hats, scarves, gloves, boots.”
I smiled at him in the master bedroom bathroom mirror as we gazed at our reflections. He looked like somebody who belonged on a foggy street in London about a century back. He might have an eye spectacle and a pocket watch to complete his garb. I think I looked more along the lines of a hippy with a beany and about 4 layers: Undershirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, jacket. We both had gloves and scarves on.
“You know where I belong with this outfit?” he asked me, still meeting my eyes in the mirror’s reflection.
“Where?” I asked.
“New York.” I know he’d traveled there several years ago with his former girlfriend. He fell in love with the city and talks often about returning. To be honest, I hate cities. I enjoy visiting them, but after about a week, I’m done. I’m definitely a rural or a suburb girl. I’m certainly not a city girl if given the choice. I stayed in Boston with a friend of mine, and it drove me crazy how trapped I felt trying to imagine ever living there. Visiting is fine, though. I’d enjoy visiting New York, especially seeing the sites I’ve long wanted to see, and getting caught up in the life there while resting with the sure thought that I’d get to return home to my quiet little place away from people.
“But New York in the winter,” he added. “I’d like to go there in the winter with you. Would you like to do that?”
“Sure, when we start making the big bucks, we’ll put that on our list,” I replied with a smile.
He took my hand in his and we exited the house together, snagging his Jack Russell on our way out the door.
“Come on, pretty!” He called to his dog, his faithful companion who came scampering along. “If I had a good income, I’d like to spend some money on cultural experiences,” he told me.
I thought he was joking, pretending to poke fun at my dream.
“Like go to Broadway and see lots of plays, or go see the Louvre in France,” he explained wistfully.
I’ve wanted to go to France for a while. I hope to begin French classes in the next year if all goes well. I’d like to be close to fluent before I go so I can get the most out of my experience. The only thing left after that would be to find a friend to go with me.
I couldn’t believe this.
“Are you serious?” I asked him, convinced he was still teasing me.
“No, I really mean it.”
“YOU?” I asked incredulously? “You want to go to France? You want to have cultural experiences? Who are you and what did you do with my boyfriend?”
My boyfriend and I both share one thing (among many, actually) in common: predictability. We have an established routine and stick with it. We plan things out weeks in advance before we do them. We are organized, borderline neat freaks, him a little more so than me. Whenever we plan for an “adventure” it literally happens months in advance and it is usually no further than a day trip to the coast to picnic and play catch in the sand.
But occasionally, I have a wild streak that comes out in me which hungers for something more. I think it’s a carry-over from my mom who is extremely adventurous and spontaneous instead of my dad, who I am much more like, who is very predictable, a steady-as-she-goes type. Even though I’m more like my dad, my mom’s DNA got through to me too, so when I get a craving for adventure, I have to find a way to satisfy it.
So when my boyfriend mentioned travel, my heart jumped. His spontaneity escapes far less than mine does, and when it does, it doesn’t seem quite as drastic as mine.
But this, this was both of our spontaneity, our sense of needing adventure once in a while coming together with a single vision. I was thrilled.
“Yes, Darling, I would love to have cultural experiences. That’s always been a dream of mine,” he explained.
I felt my heart racing with excitement.
“I’m so excited, Adam! Where else do you want to go? What else do you want to see?”
And so, we dared to dream together.
For the remainder of our lengthy walk, we dreamed together about the places we’d see, the sights we’d like to visit, imagining what we might feel when we visited them, etc.
It can’t hurt to dream, after all.
I felt so free, allowing myself to dream.
I forgot how exciting it can be, feeling like a child again, feeling like the possibilities are endless.
Maybe, we’ll see all of the places we dreamed about. Maybe we’ll only see one. But either way, I think it is good to dream. It’s wonderful to set goals. Fantastic to aspire to more in the hopes that maybe if we settle, we’ll settle for something better than what we first envisioned before we let ourselves dream.
Dare to dream!
I dare you.