2020 and 2021 were rough years, but it was 2022 that broke me. After finishing my isolating mat-leave during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was faced with the harsh reality of giving up both a job and a profession that I loved. One that I was good at. One that I once called my “dream job.” It was in January 2022 that I made the decision to give up on my dreams and reach for the stars instead. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, and the following months were undoubtedly some of the most grueling of my earthly existence thus far.
That decision snowballed a series of others that were equally hard to accept. I had to make the decision to sell our family home, which we had worked years to purchase, and give up the dream of my daughter growing up in that house. These types of decisions don’t always have to be life-altering. I’ve moved many times, but in this case, it was crushing. It was my dream, and I wasn’t ready to give it up.
To make matters worse, I was also faced with a series of unfortunate events, or a trial period, if you will. For anyone that’s been through hard times, you know. When shit hits you, it hits you all at once. From losing most of our possessions to an erratic moving truck driver to paying the last property owner’s water bill due to incompetent lawyers, I would need a whole novel to detail my crap luck during this period.
There were a lot of tears. There was a lot of screaming. Despite moving halfway across the country to be closer to family and friends, I still felt lonelier than ever, isolated in my own misery. However, I also have a young daughter that I have to raise, provide for, and set an example for. And if there’s one thing that I can show her, it’s resilience. Resilience in the face of the never-ending onslaught that life throws us. And so, I fought what felt like a literal battle.
I took an approach called, throw it all out there and scream as loud as you can. I want to say it mainly fell on deaf ears, but in the far reaches of the universe, some people did hear my call. Things started to chaotically fall into place. I landed my first freelance writing gig. My first piano students started coming in. The insurance company FINALLY sent me a cheque. Sometimes you need patience, but sometimes you really do need to scream into what feels like the void. And through all this, there are a few things I learned:
- Suffering is Part of the Journey
The acceptance of suffering isn’t a new theory, but it’s one I think we need reminding of from time to time. Whether you believe in this from a theological standpoint or philosophical, the same premise remains. To be human is to suffer. Some people suffer more than others due to a variety of factors, and some may choose to avoid suffering as best they can, but we all suffer.
The point is, whether it’s worth suffering for, and how badly you want it. No world-renowned pianist woke up one morning and decided they’d sit down and play La Campanella. There are years of practice, tears, and probably some screaming that went into that performance. Similarly, few mothers struggling with infertility found a magical solution for having children. There are many dreams that we struggle for.
Whatever your real dream job is. Whatever your real passion is. It is absolutely within your reach. It’s just a matter of how much you are willing to suffer for it. Are you willing to give up your home? Live with family? Rent for a few years? Cut back on expenses? Give up time with family? These are only decisions that you can make for yourself, and only you can decide what’s worth suffering for.
- Sometimes, You Need to Make New Dreams
Let’s be honest. Life doesn’t always turn out the way you thought. In fact, I doubt it ever does. From wanting to be a veterinarian to owning a horse farm, it doesn’t look like either of my childhood dreams is coming true, and that’s okay. I haven’t set them as real goals for myself. I haven’t been working towards them. And I most definitely am not suffering to make either of them a reality, so they aren’t that important to me. At least not right now.
In the case of my dream job and dream home, I needed to make new dreams. That part wasn’t hard, but giving up on my old dreams was. When we envision how our life is going to play out, it can be hard to let go of that reality. So, instead, I dove into my passions: music, writing, and gardening. It took time, but once I started finding success in my new dreams and things fell into place, it was easier to accept the loss of my old dreams. In the same way, the snowball of unfortunate events hit me in January 2022, a surprising turnaround snowball of events propelled me forward by July 2022, a mere six months later. Six months, that felt like the longest, hardest years of my life.
- Life is Too Short to Play it Safe
And this leads to my last life lesson from the year of hell and rebirth. Life is too short to play it safe doing what you’re good at. My best friend and I made a pact when we were in university that we wouldn’t stay in Aquatics our whole lives. This isn’t because Aquatics isn’t an honorable profession – to all my friends still fighting the good fight – I miss you, and I’m still cheering you on. We made the pact, because we both knew we had other dreams and other things we wanted to achieve in life despite our success in the industry.
The world needs people to achieve their best by doing what they are great at. What you “wish you could do.” Not what you’re good at, or even what brings in the money. Sometimes, you have to give up on your dreams to reach for the stars. For the under-represented professions out there, we need more artists, more urban gardeners, and more local artisans. I’ve seen so many of my friends embrace their passions, and I want you to know that I see you, and I’m rooting for you.
In April 2022, we took possession of our new home. A home that’s been both a blessing and a curse. It’s hard to believe that so much has happened in a year. It feels like a lifetime, and also a horrible dream. And so, as I stare out the window on this rainy April day in 2023, I’m reminded that sometimes the best things in life come to us in the most unusual ways.
One response to “How to Give Up on Your Dreams While Reaching for the Stars”
Well said. Know that we will always be supportive. We are glad you are here. Our family got a little bigger.