I don’t have a vaguely interesting back story for this post; it’s just the culmination of years of self-examination and, finally, realization. (Remember, I’m the girl who puts the anal in analyze.) So I’m just going to hit you with it.
Don’t try to become someone else’s dream. Instead, become the person you’ve always dreamed of being–and let him (or her or them) love you for it.
Whether you’re a child whose parents want to live vicariously through you, someone’s prodigy, or that person who has wrapped up another’s heart, I’ve got news for you: you won’t fit. Sure, you might come close, or some parts will fit–but others won’t. But you’ll never be a perfect match for someone else’s expectations. That’s a fantasy.
Be yourself. Pursue what you love. Get better at it every day.
They’ll love you for it.
Yesterday a friend and I were discussing the recent NYU-Replyallcalypse and he got stuck on one of the goofy Reply-All messages sent to the giant list of recipients. (Really, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, click the link I provided.) To poke him a little, I whipped off an email response in blog post format. Although it was intended to be a wry attempt at humor, I wondered if it might have real merit when I re-read it this morning. You can decide for yourself.
My Wry-Attempt-At-Humor-But-Hey-Wait-It-Might-Have-Legs Response:
Would you rather fight a 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck? You’re probably laughing at the absurdity of this question, but I’ll bet you find yourself revisiting it throughout the day, however unwillingly. After a while, you’ll realize that you are taking up precious brain power pondering a what-if that has about a zero percent chance of becoming reality.
Even if you don’t think about mutant ducks and horses all day long, I’ll bet you tie up your brain waves pondering scenarios that probably won’t come true. All of us do it—and it’s probably a healthy exercise if we can keep it in check—but when we’re thinking of stuff like that, what AREN’T we thinking of?
When you’re worrying about ducks and horses [insert your favorite diversion here], chances are you’re NOT thinking about your customers and how to help them make their lives better. Or your business and how to do what you do more effectively. Or how to nurture your kids’ talents. Or what to make for dinner. Or, or, or.
Personally, one of my favorite diversions is what-if-I-had-done-this-differently-way-back-when. I ruminate about how my life might look today if I had just answered that one question differently, or chosen a different major in college, or taken a different job. While I’m sure there’s something to be learned in hindsight, I’m sure I spend way too much time on the what-ifs I can’t recapture rather than the ones I can actually make happen today.
The next time you find yourself thinking about ducks and horses, use them to propel yourself into productivity.
I’ve never been enamored by seemingly impossible feats that some people feel compelled to attempt just to prove they can. Walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope? Pointless. Jumping the Snake River Canyon on a motorcycle? Ridiculous. Swimming from Cuba to Florida? Foolish.
This morning when I read about Diana Nyad’s failed fourth–and supposedly final–attempt to swim the 103 miles from Havana to Key West, I reached for my mouse to close the article. Before I could click the X in the corner, one particular quote caught my eye.
Apparently, Ms. Nyad has dreamed of making this swim since she was a child. Now 62, she hasn’t let her age hamper her dream, and she hopes to inspire others:
“When I walk up on that shore in Florida, I want millions of those AARP sisters and brothers to look at me and say, ‘I’m going to go write that novel I thought it was too late to do. I’m going to go work in Africa on that farm that those people need help at. I’m going to adopt a child. It’s not too late, I can still live my dreams,’ ” she had said.
Hmm. That puts things in a different perspective for me. Don’t get me wrong; I still think that swimming 103 miles without a shipwreck to necessitate it is pretty much crazy. After all, Ms. Nyad has been threatened by sharks, stung by jellyfish, buffeted by lightning storms, and exhausted to the point of delirium. But something about her words caught my heart.
“It’s not too late,” she said.
She’s right. It’s never too late to live your dreams, and I would add that it’s never too early. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, start now.
I’m pretty sure that Diana Nyad will never regret that she tried. If she has any regrets about her life, it will be the things she DIDN’T do.
I guess I’d better get started writing that book.
When new people came to visit, I’d give them a quick tour of the house so that they’d know where to find things. It didn’t matter where I lived–the tiny, fairy tale brick house that was the first to carry my name on a deed, the sprawling ranch hybrid that was intended to be the cornerstone of my growing family, or the two-story colonial that marked a new direction–the tour narrative always followed an eerily similar script.
And in this room, I’m going to…
Here’s where I want to put the…
Eventually, I’d like to make this into…
At some point, I realized that the tours I gave were for some house other than the one right in front of me. I had a vision for how I wanted it to look and gave the tour based on walls unseen, rooms remodeled, and accoutrements unpurchased. The trouble was, I (almost) never took a step toward making that vision a reality. I’ve left two houses virtually unchanged from the day I moved into them, discarding my dreams for the next occupant to consider. I never made them into what I wanted them to be.
I’ve occupied my current abode for almost five years. For the first three of those years, I conducted tours in much the same way. My only saving grace was that I had bought this house much closer to my idea of “finished” than the first two had been. Even so, I’ve slowly come to realize that it doesn’t make sense to live in Someday or Could Be. I need to live in Now, and if Now doesn’t live up to my expectations, I need to change it.
And that goes for my house, too.
Thanks, Gen Y Girl, for reminding me that I’m not a tree.