Most of us dream big as children. We have lofty visions of becoming firemen, doctors, teachers, lawyers, police officers. We dream of becoming a world-renowned sports figure, or the next great inventor. We believe we can achieve anything because there’s nothing standing in our way, nothing stopping us.
Those same dreams, visions and passions may carry on into our teenage and adult years. We might actually accomplish the goals we set out for ourselves oh-so-long-ago. We might cross that finish line, arms held high, triumph and pride glowing from the huge grin on our faces.
But what happens when life doesn’t happen like we wanted it to? What about that huge monkey wrench that threw your life into a spiral? What happens when your dreams disappear down a drain because of something you had no control over?
Human nature demands denial, anger and vengeance for what we were robbed of. After all, that dream, that goal, was my baby. Why shouldn’t I be upset?
But if all your time and energy is focused on what you had are you even noticing what you could have?
It’s easy to get caught up in a pity party, even easier to stay there when people around you don’t encourage you to move on. Empathy is a beautiful thing, comparable to a warm blanket wrapped around your shoulders after a particularly chilly day. The flip side is that too much of it sucks at your feet like a mud pit, keeping you in place, drying and hardening until standing still is all you remember how to do.
Staying there is a choice. Moving on is a choice. It’s easier to stay because… Well, emotionally driven creatures find comfort in staying in that moment of anger and betrayal. Moving on is uncomfortable and, at the moment, an unwanted notion.
But see, passion doesn’t die just because a dream fails. Your passion might remain; you’ll just have to find another way to accomplish your goal. Or your passion might shift to a completely different part of your life altogether.
That love for painting that you gave up to pursue an engineering degree might blossom now that you were rejected from MIT. That desire to be a nurse might grow now that you’ve failed the bar exam. That insane urge to own a B&B has taken root now that you were laid off from your nine-to-five office job because of budget cuts.
Passions evolve if nourished and encouraged to grow in a loving, supportive environment. My cousin over at Sweet Melissa’s Photography discovered her love for photography a year ago. My passion for writing exploded in August 2010, and has resulted in my own writer’s blog, membership to a few critiquing groups, and fine-tuning my style of writing. My cousin and I are the same age, an age when most people are settled into their careers, not looking to pursue a new one. We have husbands, children, and bills to pay. Yet we’ve found something we can both be passionate about despite our “old” age.
So before you start muttering about how much you hate your life, before you start wistfully wishing you still had that lost dream, before you wonder what you’re going to do now, think about those youthful dreams and visions. Think about how much they excited you. Think about how impassioned you were.
And, if you’re able to, act on them even if all you can do now is get a feel for whatever your passion might be. Just don’t give up yet.
Find it, find your niche, find your passion, and pursue it wholeheartedly.