… because of a conversation with a girl

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  I guess that’s what happens when the weather turns cold and you come home from work, snuggle in your blankets, and spend the night drinking hot tea. reisling wine. or apple cider and listening to the lumineers or mumford and sons. maybe the thoughts come from reading old letters from elementary school teachers or from laying on a wooden floor, reading a book that makes you question life, next to your christmas tree with the lights still turned on.  but mostly i guess that’s what happens when you sit on your bed, reminiscing over a memory box you’ve been creating since second grade.  you can think up a lot of things, you know.

as i read my journals from kindergarden to second grade,  i learned  that i’ve always wanted to be a lot of things. at different points in time i wanted to be an author, a teacher, a doctor, and a researcher to find the cure for cancer. i eventually decided to keep it simple and ended one journal by saying, “i want to help people.”  i recognized the internal drive.force.calling. that has persistently pushed me in the direction i continue to head towards today, and smiled.  i questioned how i knew back then the kind of person i wanted to be. the kind of impact i wanted to have. it was kind of wonderful really, being able to remember the child i was and how similar i am now to the person i was then.

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the amazing thing about children is their ability to believe. because the thing is, i know that i didn’t idealistically want to find the cure for cancer; at seven years old, i believed i had the potential to do so. at one point i wrote, “by the time i’m fifteen, i want to go to africa and do something about the poverty there.” ambitious and perhaps a little naive. but i smiled anyways. a dreamer to a fault.and then i quickly panicked. i imagined having a conversation with my seven year old self while drinking tea at a cute little cupcake spot.  i would tell her (or i guess, me) about what i’ve done in the last 17 years and where i’ve ended up at, what i still aspire to do. i would describe to her all of the places she would go, the people she would meet. and i would talk about what i’ve learned.

i can’t help but wonder, would my childhood self be satisfied by  progress i have made? 

 

without being too critical of myself, i suspect not.  i think the seven year old girl (who would probably be wearing a plaid dress with my hair in two braids) would have expected me to dream bigger.  to be part of something remarkable.  iand of course my present self would explain to the 7 year old the difficulty in changing the world- without taking away from the dream of it.  but that shouldn’t be an excuse.  because in reality, i’ve wanted the same thing my entire life, and i know i am not there yet. i am realistic enough to understand that i can’t change the world, but i’m also idealistic enough to try and positively impact the parts that i touch.  i understand what i need to be doing to get there. and while i have fooled myself into thinking that what i am currently doing is enough, i know in my heart that it’s not.

i yearn for that day when i wake up and realize that this is it.  maybe that moment will never come, maybe there will be so much left to do, and maybe i will never be content with my efforts,  but it is enough to strive for.

and so here i am, still just trying to fulfill that little girl’s dream; i guess i haven’t grown up yet, because i still believe it’s possible.

who did you imagine you would become?  and have you given up on that dream?  what do you want your life to mean?  it’s never too late.

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One thought on “… because of a conversation with a girl

  1. ““i want to help people.” – your young self was so smart! There is no bigger dream than that. And no more humble one, either. You can, and I suspect are, doing it every day.

    And as for the impact: It is hard for any most people to judge their own impact. Sure, if you were the one to cure cancer, the impact would be pretty obvious. But what about all of the little things you do? You are likely changing lives all over the place without even realizing it. When I was a teenager, for example, both of my parents had a pretty severe alcohol problem and there were a few other things in the domestic mix that made my home life difficult. But a good friend of mine and her parents always had me over, included me like another family member in family gatherings, dinners, and so forth. Seeing normal families, having a place to go to be with “normal” people was really good for me and helped a great deal toward making me who I am today. But here’s the thing: the family? They didn’t even know I had a problem at home. They were just being friendly to a friend of their daughter’s. Years later when I told my friend what was going on at home she said “We didn’t even know! No *wonder* you never had me over to your house!”

    So my advice is this: Look at every moment as an opportunity to make that little girl proud by being the best person you can be. I guarantee you sometimes things will happen that you’ll want to write her a time-traveling letter about. But what I won’t guarantee is whether or not you’ll even be aware that they happened.

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