Is it ever okay to give up on your dreams?
When do we stop dreaming? Is it when we’re five, and we realize that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are all poker buddies in our parents’ imaginations, there only to give us fun and shiny childhood memories? Could it be when we become teenagers and finally start seeing the ugliness within the world around us?
Dreams being central to one’s motivations are emphasized in our culture, from a young age at that. Walt Disney’s Cinderella sings that “Dreams are a wish our heart makes.” In Man of La Mancha Don Quixote tells us to “Dream the Impossible Dream.” And who could forget in Field of Dreams the line that “If you build it, they will come”? The examples could go on forever.
Sayings and cliches are mixed about if you should or shouldn’t give up. Being called a “dreamer” is filled with negative implications that you’re not grounded in reality and therefore won’t get anywhere in life. However, at the same time we hear we should “keep the dream alive” and “dream big.”
Where do we make the boundaries between the two? Is it possible to keep a little of both?
I used to have dreams. In kindergarten I wanted to be a figure skater. By second grade I wanted to be the first female in Major League Baseball. When I reached fifth grade I wanted to be a concert violinist. In junior high it was to be a country singer. Once I reached college I was obsessed with horses and wanted to do Three Day Eventing.
Each of these dreams had their own life span until they fizzled out (though I would still love the opportunity to continue horseback riding and jumping). Each had their own quiet death, a time they just faded away, be it from maturity, change in interest, or just an acceptance that they were unrealistic…unobtainable….impossible.
I have had one dream that has persisted through the years. Not one of fame or grandiosity, luxury or riches. It’s much simpler than that. I want a family, and I want to find a man I can love—and be loved by—for the rest of my years.
There have been times I thought I had. Soon after I reached my permanent duty station after completing my Army training I met a man I fell in love with, quickly. Things were serious and we talked marriage, although there was never a ring and I hadn’t told my family. He was part of the German Air Force, on a temporary school assignment for about nine months, and when he went back to Germany it was with promises to stay in touch until he could come back. Which he did, initially, but when he returned for a shorter, three-month leadership course I only saw him a time or two. After that, I didn’t hear back from him.
I dated after him, but I couldn’t get past comparing everyone to him. Even when I accepted a marriage proposal five years later, I wonder if it was more because I didn’t want to spend my life alone than because I loved him so much that I couldn’t live without him. Then things came to light that hadn’t been known before and I called off the engagement. That was six years ago.
After that I was involved with someone else. I loved, and I wanted so much to believe that he returned the feeling. He said he did a couple times, but that was all. Instead, he hurled too many accusations and believed falsehoods told by others, certain that I was the liar rather than them. I always knew that I had been more serious about him than he was for me, but I never wanted to admit it. I invested too much of myself into it, and again when it was over I was emotionally exhausted and broken. I feared this time it was for good.
I had nearly given up on my dream to have love, a husband, a child someday. I had reached the point that I honestly thought that I would either spend my life alone, just me and the critters, or that I would have to settle for a marriage in which I would have companionship but no passion and love.
My dream almost died. Until I found someone who was able to breathe life back into it. A man who has given me more than just hope that I will finally have the family and love that I’ve dreamed of for so long.
So…is it ever okay to give up on your dreams? For some things yes, but others I believe we should hold on to and fight for. Some things make life worth living. For those things I shall soon be able to quit dreaming, as those dreams are finally becoming a reality in my life.