Lighthouse

My dreams have always had a way of tearing me down. They come through each day like a wave and with my eyes open I watch as the things around me get worn and washed away, and then the wave comes back and does it all again. I’ve watched this cycle for as long as I’ve been dreaming. I’ve noticed that the more intense the desire, the more intense the wave. When my heart races at the thought of getting what I know is right for me, that’s when the water comes crashing in at full force. I stand with my feet buried in the sand and my body held strong, ready to get hit by what’s coming my way but refusing to be knocked down. I don’t cover my face. I don’t turn my back. I just stay tall and firm, confident in knowing that I will not fall. And while I’m proud to say that my feet have never been washed out from under me, I can’t say the same for the things around me. When the water pulls back it often takes relationships, opportunities, materials, and other things that I thought were too secure to be washed away. I want to run. I want to chase after them. But I spent so much time burying my own feet in the sand that I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to move, and now the same ocean that has it’s grip on me rolls back in laughter, carrying the things I thought were mine to keep.

The truth is, with everything that comes and goes I am learning that a dreamer’s journey is a lonely one. I have fought and struggled and chased down everything that I wanted to stay, hoping that I could remain steady where I am while controlling the fluidity of what’s around me. But I was never known for my ability to chase so I am learning how to show strength in the roots that I build. Though I chose sand for a foundation, I know that when packed and secure, it can be as strong as I need it to be. The only weakness comes from the things on top that refused to dig deep enough to stay. And while I will enjoy everything that sits around me while it’s there, I will also let it go with peace. The water is not meant to be dangerous or scare me into finding solid ground somewhere else; it’s meant to wash away what no longer belongs to me. And as it takes things away, I will remain steady. I will let the beat of my heart and the light of my dreams call out to the water in front of me and serve as a lighthouse to guide and welcome what is mine. Boats and rafts filled with new people and new loves will find their way to me and I will embrace them with open arms, but I will not ask them to stay. I am where I am because of my dreams and they are where they are because of theirs. And if the water washes them away as they are called to venture somewhere else, who am I to stop them?

And as time goes by, I know that with everything around me, I am changing too. I am being molded into who the world is calling me to be. Sometimes my edges are sharp and the clouds in my mind match the ones above my head. But other times I am soft, and the water rolls off me with ease and I am unbothered. Most of the time, though, I am somewhere in the middle – fierce with determination and wild with desire, but calm and content all the same. Enough to tackle what comes, but to accept what goes.

I have built myself into the anomaly of a dreamer standing still. I am a lighthouse attracting everything that is lost and searching for a way, welcoming all that is meant to be. And, if in time, a boat is sent my way with nothing on it, then I will know that it’s time for me to dig up my roots and continue elsewhere. But things in life – be it dreams, people, opportunities, or otherwise – are not meant to be chased, they are meant to be welcomed. And whether I am standing tall in the sand or flowing free in the water, I will welcome what is brought to me and let it come and go with peace.

The Moment My Life Changed

I remember specific moments where my life had changed. The minute I bought that plane ticket to go halfway across the world; the time I chased a dream despite the many obstacles in my way; the moment I kissed that boy knowing the only two possible outcomes were happiness or heartache. I knew. In every moment I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that life would never go according to plan, and no matter how much you try to bribe your way into a better outcome, the dice have already been rolled and there’s nothing you can do but play the cards you have. I knew that they were course-altering moments and if I were in a movie, they would be the scenes that can be identified by a change in music, forcing the audience to feel one way or another. I knew.

I knew that in all the emotions I could have felt in every moment that my life had changed, the only one that pounded its way across my head, knocking into my skull time and time again to make itself known, was fear. It wasn’t the type of fear that held me back – binded at the wrists and ready to succumb to the innevitable outcome that I had no choice but to follow. Nor was it the fear that boiled my blood and left adrenaline coursing through my veins like a drug that couldn’t be stopped. It was a different kind of fear. It was fear that caused my heart to pound just a beat too fast and my mind to quiet like the world around me as it focused only on the moment I was in. It was the feeling you get when you explore a new place on your own – afraid of what could happen but curious and thrilled at the possibilities ahead. It was the moment on the track just before the gun is shot; the intensity of the musician as the conductor lifts their arms; the readiness of the actor as the curtains open in front of them. In every moment there was fear, but it was the fear of the beginning that puts everything else into action. I knew.

I knew that this fear, while not blinding or adrenaline-inducing, was one I would come to know and love because it meant my life was moving forward. While I never knew if that direction was one that would end in a triumphant roar of the audience or a defeated fall on my knees, what I did know is that I would be better off because of it. The victory would inspire me to go even further while the defeat would teach me to hold my head a little higher.

I have learned not to be afraid of being afraid – an irony that took me more time to learn than I’d like to admit. My mind has been trained into understanding that the greatest type of fear is the one you feel just moments before a change; moments before you push past the comfort zone you once set for yourself and fly into a new territory that has been waiting to be explored by you. Because the only two reasons that you can be uncomfortable with where your life is at is because you’re either staying in your comfort zone where you don’t belong, or you’re pushing past it where you’re not used to. And I would rather feel the fear of moving forward than experience the loss of standing still, and this is something I know.

What to do With a Dying Dream

It’s natural for people to change as time goes by. Their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and so many other things can change. So why does it come as such a shock when our dreams and passions that we have chased for so long start to change as well? And what do we do when we feel these changes start to take place?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to teach second grade. Now I’m going to college with plans to eventually teach at a university.

When I was in eighth grade I refused to do marching band because my heart was set on tennis. When I was a senior in high school I quit tennis so I could be drum major for marching band.

When I was younger I grew up writing nearly every day but refused to let anybody read what I wrote. Now I’ve had writing published and I write on this blog, available for the public to read.

People change, and along with these changes comes a change in dreams.

But what do you do when your dreams change? What do you do when you stop feeling passionate about what you thought was you’re main passion or your “purpose in life,” if you will?

I’ve been experiencing this for a while as I’ve been jumping around with my studies or considering different futures for myself and it’s a strange feeling. To be honest, I almost feel like a fraud. I have been diligently pursuing one future for as long as I can remember, but now that path seems worn and not as exciting and I can feel myself losing interest. I thought I had everything figured out, but now I’m questioning everything. And while sometimes I’m filled with a little bit of dread (because I’m less sure of what lies ahead) and some guilt (because I’ve jumped through too many hoops to turn around now), I have to consciously remind myself that there is nothing wrong with a change in passion or a dying dream.

We can’t fulfill every dream of ours, not because they’re unlikely or too far out of reach, but because we’re simply not meant to. Sometimes the pursuit is more important than the pursuing, and it’s that very journey that is supposed to strengthen and prepare us for the next path we are supposed to head down. I think it’s important for us to look at these changes as natural rather than scary or unexpected – if we can openly accept changes in our personality or who we are, we should also openly accept changes in what we want out of life. We smile and nod our heads encouragingly as children tell us about their dreams of becoming doctors or rock-stars or spacemen while thinking to ourselves “awe, how cute!” while knowing full well they’ll probably change their mind. We not only accept children changing their dreams but we fully expect it, so why does it feel harder to embrace that same mentality for ourselves as we get older? After all, aren’t we still growing and learning and changing?

In the same way that not every star can live forever, neither can every dream. The dying isn’t bad, it just opens up space for something new to shine.

Choices

I’ve come to learn that we have a lot more control over our life than we think. Sure, we can’t control the choices or actions of others. Yes, the workings of the world around us are out of our hands. But we control our actions and our perceptions, and that’s a lot.

So, if you want to do something, do it. Maybe it will take time and hard work, but it can be done if you prioritize it and try.

If you want to be someone, be them. I don’t mean someone else, but merely a better version of yourself. The only one standing between who you are and who you want to be is you.

If you want to accomplish your dreams, keep pursuing them no matter how hard it gets or how crazy people think you are. You must be fearless in your pursuit.

Choose to be fearless.

Choose to be happy.

Choose to be you.

It’s like the wise Dr. Seuss once said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Epidemic

There’s a lot of commotion going on in the world right now. With opinions that differ in more ways than one and people butting heads over the desire to be right, I feel as if there’s been a dwindling of hope spreading across the nation – an epidemic of moral losses as everyone searches for a political gain. But the problem doesn’t lie outside of us – it’s not something we can put limitations on or negotiate – the problem lies within us.

I have a thing for encouraging shirts. No matter where I’m at, if I see a shirt with an encouraging or optimistic phrase on it, I have to buy it. It all started when I bought a shirt that says, “peace starts with empathy.” This shirt is my favorite, because it reminds me to be empathetic (understanding or compassionate towards experiences or people without having firsthand experience) no matter what the situation is. I think this world could use a lot of empathy right now. We seem to have collectively looked at the world, pinpointed a problem, and settled on the quickest and “easiest” solution possible, but the only reason this “solution” seems easy is because it doesn’t require any real change within us – it leaves all of us free of guilt while also leaving us free of change. But we can’t have both.

We need to change. Not laws or legislation, us. We need to be more responsible with our actions, more careful with our words, and more generous with our hearts. We need to make a point to reach our hand out every chance we get instead of stepping over all the people who have fallen and expect them to be okay. We need to get rid of this, “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” mindset and start helping others – the change may start within ourselves, but an individualistic mindset will lead to individualistic actions, and this world is in desperate need of collective actions.

Stop giving people reasons to feel alone. Stop giving people reasons to believe nobody cares. Stop giving this world reasons to lose hope. Let’s start a new epidemic – start filling yourself up with empathy and spreading light and love everywhere you go. The world is too dark of a place to keep it all inside.