It’s funny…the various stages of dreaming that we go through as people. I think what shapes us is how long we manage to hold onto our dreams or how we mold them along the way.
When I was 13, I knew then that I wanted to help people and have an impact on the world. To me at the time, that meant occupations like a doctor (before I knew I had an aversion to blood) or a lawyer (before I knew how time consuming and financially depressing it was to go through law school, successfully). My mother told me I could be whatever I wanted – as long as I worked hard.
Either way, I knew that meant I would have to excel in middle school…high school… in order to get a scholarship. So I did. And somehow in high school -probably around the second semester of my Freshman year – my dreams started to dim a bit when financial reality set in. So I started my first job. Then my second in Junior year.
During those years, while I started to piece together the ideas of a “budget” and how much it actually cost to live in the “real” world… I didn’t exactly grasp the concept of a savings account yet – so I spent my money on band t-shirts, CDs, a stereo, DVDs, eating out with friends, going to the movies…you get the idea. I became independent in a way; I didn’t have to feel guilty asking my (single parent) mother for money so I could hang out with my friends – this is something I could do for myself.
So I excelled in high school while working two jobs. These were stepping stones on the path to achieving my dreams that were becoming more out of focus at this time. The good news is: I test extremely well. I was awarded a few scholarships to cover tuition for college – which was always on the future path for me.
Higher education has evolved in a way where it’s become more difficult to attain year after year. It used to be enough to work hard in school and get good grades; now you need to play a sport, volunteer, participate in a club, work part time, overcome diversity, AND get good grades. By the end of high school, I had decided to become a different kind of doctor – Forensic Psychologist.
So I double majored in Psychology and Criminal Justice in college after I moved out. I worked 40-50 hours a week depending on how many jobs I had, even had a bit of a social life while getting good grades. Transitioned to part time school for a semester when I had back surgery and still graduated in 4.5 years.
After receiving my degree, I moved to Arizona to take a break (aka just work full time). There were several pros to moving here – high up on the list was warmer weather and more access to one of my greatest loves: live music.
The first six months were a rough transition to say the least: sick, moved twice, car broke down, missing home… but you learn a lot on your own. I had become accustomed to my financial reality by this time and going to get my doctorate seemed less and less possible.
I was burnt out. And I started to think about what was important to me; the answer was clear – happiness. I wanted to be in love with my life. That began with music – I went to every show I could within a 150 mile radius my first year in Arizona. Yes, I spent money I didn’t have and probably took off more time at work than I should have.
The first two years I moved here have been the best of my life. I’ve been so many places and seen so many bands; met people through music I’ve known for years. These people – my friends – are an integral part of my life and help build a strong foundation for wherever I want to go next.
It’s hard to imagine in a snap shot – how our dreams go from “doctor” to debt-free.
HOW DID I GET HERE?
Dreams evolve at a different degree for different people.
I’m not where I thought I would be.
I’m not sure where I want to go half the time.
But I want to look back and say with confidence that I did what was best for me at the time. And that I learned a lot. And that I enjoyed all the mistakes I made along the way.
Because I think that light at the end of the tunnel that’s getting brighter every day…is my dream. I’m just not sure what shape it’ll take by the time I get there.