When I was younger, I felt such a fire inside, a spark of creativity, energy, a feeling of greatness, destiny, and purpose. I didn’t know what I wanted to be or what my future held, but it felt bright and limitless. I had been raised to believe I could achieve anything I wanted if I worked hard enough for it. It was a mantra my dad repeated often.
While I didn’t know what I wanted, I knew I never wanted to lose my passion or the fire inside me. I promised myself I wouldn’t let go of my child-like wonder or the enjoyment of life’s smallest pleasures. I had read enough books and watched enough tv and movies to know that being an adult seemed to equal, for most, consenting to a dull and monotonous life based on security and stability.
As I moved from job to job, from industry to industry, taking college classes here and there, and even graduating cosmetology school, I seemed to be holding on to what was most dear to me. I was a creative being who looked at life differently than many. I held out for what spoke to my heart; I kept high expectations when it came to love or what life should feel like.
Over time though, I repeatedly was told that life could never live up to my expectations. The people closest to me said they felt bad because, while they envied the beautiful dreams I had, they knew I was often disappointed when reality didn’t measure up. I knew from experience that high school, college, working, etc., had all been less than what I had imagined them to be. I started to suspect that I was wrong in the way I was clinging onto high in the sky hopes.
I started to shrink myself to fit into reality as it was told to me rather than grow myself to cultivate the reality of my dreams. I started to choose stability and security over excitement, passion, or risk. I started to be that person who deferred my dreams. “One day,” I’d think wistfully but knowing that one day usually doesn’t come around for most people. I consoled myself that even a small life, filled with goodness, makes an impact.
While this is true, small moments of kindness creates a lasting impact; it wasn’t the life I had dreamed of for myself. I never planned to be someone who sits still, who gives up the things that make me happy or to accept less than because it’s what I’m told I need to do. I can hold out for magic, and I can create my own. I can embrace stability and security while spreading my wings and broadening my horizons. I can hold fire within me and use it to set my world ablaze.
Despite it all, the world doing its best to shrink me, I have found my roots, and now I’m learning to grow my wings. I have created for myself a solid and loving foundation in my life between my family and friends (aka chosen family). I have both support and encouragement. Now, as I approach 40, I’m figuring out what I want and need to be happy. I want to “live my best life,” as the kids say.
I know when this pandemic is over, I can’t wait to get out and meet friends at restaurants and bars again. I want all of the hugs I can get. While the pandemic is raging, I’m making efforts to read more, to write more, and pushing myself to move my body. I’m slowly becoming a better housekeeper, I’m also cleaning out and working on having less attachment to things. I know, at my core, I am a writer and a helper, so I’m working to combine those aspects of who I am and finding the courage to share more of both with the world.
Previously, I had let myself fall into a small and mundane existence, one that had let go of the hope of magic and passion, but I refuse to break that childhood promise anymore. I will look at this world with the wonder and awe it deserves. I will hold out for the things that set my soul on fire. I will live an extraordinary life.