Have You Forgotten Your Dreams?
Remember the tunnel vision you had as a kid? You knew yourself so well, you knew your needs, regardless of your surrounding environment, so sure in your dreams, excited for the chance to realise them one day, listening to their gentle guidance at every turn. Oblivious to any distractions, just going along your path. Real authentic passions, hobbies, barely a thought put into anything which came so naturally.
I find myself back in New York, turning 24, where I turned 21, under completely different circumstances, worlds ahead now. I’ve barely had a chance to process the changes and acknowledge how life has unraveled up to this point. One thought has been recurring to me over and over again, as I work on connecting more with the present moment and settling my mind, locating my physical self in this space – that this, here, New York, is where I am meant to be right now. I’m starting to feel that tunnel vision creep back, childlike and innocent, vulnerable, yet headstrong and confident.
We always followed through as kids. What happened along the way?
When pondering the accumulation of activities, locations, relationships and behaviours which currently make up my life, I constantly catch myself asking: What would your younger self say? Is this what you always wanted? Have you turned out to be the person you always wanted to be? Is change okay? And if it is, if you do let change happen, if you follow change and new ideas and propensities – how much change? What kind, which do you choose, which do you listen to? Do you fear regret, wasting time, transience, commitment to something which may or may not ring true to your talents, letting yourself down, disappointing that child’s dreams and golden energy?
I’ve realised that I need to check in with myself and take a step back. I’ve forgotten many of my dreams. By taking that step back, I can see now that I’ve been living all of them. I’ve just become so disconnected from listening to my needs, so distracted, flustered, insecure, doubtful and hard on myself. Always questioning, catching myself out at every opportunity, not living in the moment. The dreams are all there, they’re being lived, they just need to feel life and be appreciated.
It’s not that I’m dissatisfied or unhappy or ungrateful. Definitely not. I think I’m just unconscious, catapulting through my days and to-do lists. Maybe I drink too much coffee. Maybe I run too much. Maybe I’m lacking an undiscovered micro-vitamin of some kind. A million other maybes jump to mind (as I sip my jug of cold-brew at 8pm in the evening after an 8 hour work day and a 6 mile run at 7am in the morning). So let’s be conscious and real for a second. What are the facts, what is actually going on, versus the confusion of a scattered and exhausted perception?
I’m living in New York, the most creative city in the world. I’m surrounded by thousands of beautiful cafes, where I can spend all weekend if I want to, with a notepad or my laptop, writing. I shop in Whole Foods every day (can I please remember how I fantasised about this place in the olden days?), and have access to that superfoods brand Naturas Navitas (Navitas Naturals?) which I used to browse online constantly when I first turned vegan, and became interested in making magnificently interesting breakfast art. I live in the land of the Vitamix. My gym is literally my idea of paradise, my fitness is soaring and makes me feel high as a kite. I’m not broke – I mean, I’m not lavishly rich in any sense, but I have enough for all of my daily needs and partialities. I live in a beautiful apartment in one of the most trendy, unusual and interesting boroughs in New York. My bedroom is tiny and cosy and catches the stunning red Williamsburg sunrise.
I got to live in Australia, I cycled in Adelaide, drank coffee in Melbourne, ate mangos in Thailand with 300 vegans, and watermelon at Yoga Barn in Bali; lived in a caravan in the south of France and cycled the Côte d’Azur, did internships abroad, landed my first job in New York which is above and beyond anything I could have expected. My desk looks over the whole of Manhattan, I am surrounded by kind and supportive people, and get to be part of a mission driven company. I’m growing in confidence every day, and am challenged to listen and learn. I have the opportunity to stay here.
I made so many rich and incredible connections throughout my travels. It’s hard that they are all scattered around the world, and that I can’t have them all pooled around me every day, but I know they are strong friendships nonetheless, more important than any immediacy. I think I even have more contacts in New York than I did while in college in Dublin, whose friendships I really value. Maybe that’s the biggest dream I’ve forgotten, and the one I need to realise the most. And most importantly, to realise that my friendship is valued too.
It’s the adrenaline of novelty and new interests which scare me. The new job, technology, new interests, new ideas. Am I really considering doing a masters in that course? What book did I just order online – surely I have no interest or talents in that area, what I am I doing? Why do I have those particular articles bookmarked? Surely they’re not up my street. Then my I hear my yoga teacher end every class with, “GO LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE GUYS!” And I’m like, shit, Aoibheann, are you living your best life? Should you be out doing drugs and clubbing every night in a neon pink crop top? Should you start ballet, or painting classes? Should you be writing a novel? Be searching for your life-long partner? Do I need to know more people, just for the sake of it? Should I be training outside in these artic winter temperatures? Are you being lazy? Should I be more productive at work? Should you even care where you live?
Stop. It’s times like these you need to be that kid again. Tunnel vision. You do you.
When you take a step back, your everyday worries and insecurities suddenly just look comical. Sometimes that’s the best way to deal with them – step back and laugh at them, don’t take them seriously.
So don’t forget your dreams. Because you might well be living them, without noticing. And letting that time and investment slip by without engaging and reaping the benefits, is more of a shame than never realising those dreams at all.