Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dream THIS!

Sometimes I reach for goals not because I want the end result, but because I want others to know that I am capable of ACHIEVING the end result. I want the praise, the recognition, the admiration. I want these others in my life to look at me and say, “Wow! She is some go-getter. What a smart cookie.” I want to impress, to awe, to inspire, to leave my mark on the life of another. I have always enjoyed being the focus, being the center. When the spotlight comes on, whenever that might be, in my mind it will shine on me. I know this sounds a bit, uh, well, let’s just say self-centered and stop at that. But it’s where I am most comfortable and I feel I do my best work there. Don’t we all have that spot? For me, part of being in the limelight means reaching for certain goals simply because I want others to notice me, to know that I am CAPABLE of achieving those goals.

I have always felt, for example, that I was not finished with school, that at some point I would resume charging ahead to that much-awaited PhD. But, I have to ask, do I want that doctorate for me or do I want it for the others I may feel the need to please? After some good amount of thinking, I have come to this. I want it for me, yes, but for the attention it will draw me, not for the degree itself.

Insightful. And not nearly a good enough reason to pursue a goal.

So, now I have to ask myself what in my life do I want simply because I want it? What do I want not because I think it will impress or please another, but because it will bring me joy, bring me satisfaction? What in my life do I want because it will bring praise and recognition and admiration from ME?

I’m not exactly sure I can answer this question. How would YOU answer it? I’m having difficulty with the concept of what I believe I SHOULD want and what I actually truly want.

Little girl dreams are grand. They are fun and creative and exciting. Anything is possible. Anything is encouraged. Little girl dream-building is brainstorming at its best. When I was five I wanted to become a great toe dancer. I would perform each night for huge crowds that would nod and clap and show much appreciation for my mad toe dancing skill. When not performing fantastic leaps and twirls, I would grace the stage in my white go-go boots and shake a little booty with a bit of flippant sass and a good degree of attitude. And, of course, I would sing. Always, I would sing. I often sat my parents, and any other random family, down in an effort to prepare and practice for this future of stardust and fame.

At some point, though, these little girl dreams are put into their proper place. At some point, I understand that, of course, I will not become a great toe dancer or a booty-shaking go-go boot dancer. Of course I won’t because real people don’t do these things. At some point, I am told what I should dream, what I should want, what I should desire. At some point, I learn that I should want children and marriage, a college education, a good job with benefits and insurance. I learn that I should pursue a practical path like teaching or nursing or answering phones, not a path such as flitting about a stage in odd get-ups. At some point I forget what are my dreams and what are the dreams of those around me. At some point I forget my little girl dreams and take on these lifeless big girl dreams.

The big girl dreams are not fun and creative and exciting. They are boring, and they are not always truly mine. I have a friend who wants to be a Fancy Cat. There is a commercial where a beautiful Persian is just living the life, enjoying dinner from a glorious goblet, lounging on plush cushions and purring like no other. This friend has created a Fancy Cat life for herself, doing things that please her, things that make her happy, things that make her smile. She is treating herself when she feels like being treated. She is dining from a glorious goblet. She IS a Fancy Cat. I love this. Nowhere in the boring big girl dream list did I see the goal “become a Fancy Cat.” She totally broke the big girl dream rules and wrote it in at the end. How cool is that?!

I’ve decided to take the whole darn list of big girl rules, crumple it up, and start all over. I’ve decided to listen to that go-go boot dancing five-year-old, the one shaking her hips and belting out a little Harper Valley PTA. That girl had chutzpah. That girl knew what life was all about. She didn’t care what others thought about her. She knew what she was capable of achieving. SHE knew and that’s all that mattered.

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