And maybe that’s a good thing.
I’ve always had dreams of some kind. As a young child I either wanted to be a Queen or an astronaut, and occasionally I would combine the two and be Queen of the Moon. I got a little older and wanted to be and author or a biochemist, and then I wanted to be a historian, or a spy. The historian dream lasted a long time, until the general shit-show that was my Masters. After that I just kind of drifted. I’m still drifting, if I’m honest.
The problem with dreams is that they frequently don’t work out, and even if they do you’re left with a sense of “what now?”. Dreams are big, far-off things for a “some day” or “when I grow up”. They’re often unattainable, or simply impractical. Sometimes you achieve your dream and realise that it isn’t a dream at all. Sometimes it’s not what you wanted, or how you imagined it. Perhaps you had that dream when you were a different person, and didn’t realise that it doesn’t fit who you are anymore until it was too late? I’ve experienced all of these things. I’m not saying that I became Queen of the Moon and it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but I have achieved things I desperately thought I wanted and were right for me, only to discover that they were the misguided fantasies of a child and I only clung to them for the sake of continuity and security.
When you have a dream, you have something you’re aiming for: you have a plan. You can feel like your life is on track and put together so long as you’re vaguely aiming for something, even if in reality you’re like that dog in a burning house meme saying “This is fine”. Dreams are safe. While having something to strive for is fantastic, it almost feels like it’s looked down upon if you don’t have a long term plan or goal. The thing is, not everyone can be an astronaut or a pop singer. We can’t all do these fantastical things that seem like what we should aiming for. Most of us are just kind of average, working jobs that are okay, looking for love and happiness and pursuing our own small everyday goals. And y’know what? I think that’s brilliant.
Focusing on the now, the everyday achievements and the small ways in which I can improve my life has made me so much happier. I put far less pressure on myself, and while I may have vague things I’d like to do or achieve, by not making them too concrete they have room to change as I do. While having clear steps to achieving a goal may work for some people, I find that it just restricts me and ultimately make me miserable. I enjoy planning and structure, but I also enjoy being able to throw it all to the winds and change my mind if I want to.
I don’t have any big, long-term goals or dreams right now, and while I may not be living a perfect life I’m definitely happier than I’ve been since the blissful ignorance of childhood. I achieved that first class degree and went on to start a Masters degree, only to discover that I hated academia and it was killing my love of the subject. I was well on my way to becoming a fully fledged Assyriologist and realised that it wasn’t what I wanted. But I was already on my Masters course; I felt trapped and like I was being forced down a path I didn’t want to be on. This led to some of the most miserable years of my life and had a serious impact on my mental and physical health. The dream of being a historian and a university lecturer was destroying me, and it took me a long time to understand that I was the one forcing myself down that path, one that didn’t fit who I was anymore.
Nowadays, I don’t really know what path I’m on or where I’ll end up. All I know is that I could do anything and right now I’m happy. For now, that’s enough for me.