I have two types of dreams. On the surface, both seem challenging, time-consuming, glorifying, and courageous. The reality is, I am beginning to think, that one is actually fleeting, cheap, artificial, and cowardly.
I will explain.
Dream Type 1: Flamboyant, glamorous, gritty, lavish, minimalist
Yes, some of those labels are contradictory. The fact of the matter, however, is that they all apply. I grew up in Detroit, went to college in Chicago, and held my first job in San Francisco. During college I was fortunate to volunteer in South America a handful of times, and leisurely traipse through Europe twice as well. Now, after two years living the post-grad life, I claim to my family that perhaps I will spend the next year in pursuit of adventure. I will travel the globe, creating travel plans and booking accommodations as I go. Maybe I will work, maybe I will not. Perhaps in some locations I will camp, while I save my money for five star accommodations in others. At times I will fly first class; at times I will try to cross long distances on foot. As I recant these plans, uncharted and loose, to family, friends, and co-workers, I am generally met with awe and praise. I am so brave, I am so daring; boy, do I really know how to seize life.
Dream Type 2: Difficult, laborious, dauntless, laudatory
I want to write a book. I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I want to get married. I want to complete an Iron Man. I want to have children. I want to be the youngest female to finish 100 marathons. I want to have a relationship with my precious grandparents. I want to have a savings account that I take pride in, rather than one with a balance that horrifies me. I want to own a home and customize it so everyone who enters can feel my spirit and energy within it. I want true friends. These are all goals I keep privately tucked away. I do not share these ambitions with many because I deem them as less than. I think they are trivial, mundane, and small-minded. I do not know what others will say about these goals because they are hidden. I assume I will be seen as lacking aspiration and settling.
The fact of the matter, however, is that Dream Type 2 is the real stuff. Dream Type 1 is contrived. It is short-lived, and it is empty. It is romanticized imagery and ephemeral ideas. It is a temporary escape; a sojourn from reality. I think I have clung to pursuing Dream Type 1 for so long because it has been easy and praise-worthy. The truth, though, is that anyone can save up enough money to fly to Marrakech, Melbourne, or Madrid; anyone can traverse the earth. I am not saying it is not important to learn about other cultures and to explore. But, I am saying that it is more important to discover who you are, and to pursue the dreams that make you that person. You can only hide out in another hemisphere for so long. Eventually, you must conquer your bigger, truer dreams.
To be blunt, I have a boring desk job. Now that I am driven so insane by the mundane, I have found myself endlessly craving the undertaking of Dream Type 1. That’s the easy way out though. It’s much easier to purchase a plane ticket than the simple spiral bound notebook that will become my first novel. I have never wanted to do things the easy way, so now I know what I must do to truly challenge myself. And I dare you to figure out what you want to do that is so difficult, laborious, dauntless, and so very laudatory, and do it, too.