On the first day of second semester, Mr. Amdahl invited all of the seniors in his Diversity Issues class to stand and announce their post-graduation plans. Of course I’d put a lot of thought into it, maybe even more than most, but my answer wasn’t concrete. It didn’t make sense. “What do you want to do after school?” Well, that was a loaded question.
Think back to high school. Who was the beautiful girl with tons of friends? You envied her because she had amazing hair and was also a straight A student. Talented in countless ways, she not only had a ton of friends because she was all those wonderful things, but because… believe it or not… she was actually nice. Not only was this girl nice, she was kind, humble, welcoming and personable. Beautiful? Popular? Smart? Talented? AND nice? Not fair, right? Enter Ashley Wilkinson.
And for whatever reason, Ashley chose a small window of time, to be really good friends with me. I loved spending any minute I could with her. She made me laugh. She was so positive and loving. On sleepover nights, we’d lie awake sharing wild stories that we dreamed could someday become movies. We loved to imagine ourselves as movie stars, writers, artists and musicians. But the older we got, the more I realized that her dream of becoming an actress was far more possible than mine– for two reasons: 1) because she wanted it more and, 2) she was actually talented.
I’ve mentioned before several times about the lack of things I’m truly good at so of course during my senior year of high school when it was time to share our dreams I didn’t know what to say. Since I wasn’t good at anything, I wanted to try everything! Lawyer? Sure! Teacher? Maybe. Inventor? Okay. As children we imagine ourselves as chefs and astronauts and zookeepers and the President of the United States. But at 17 years old I wasn’t ready to chase one dream, I wanted them all. And one by one I realized that I’d never be able to live up to its potential.
I vividly remember telling my friend, Kayla, that I wanted to be a motivational speaker. “What would you speak about?” she asked. Well… that’s a good question. “I don’t think you just get to choose you want to be a motivational speaker unless you have something like good to talk about.” Kayla was right. I couldn’t imagine driving around the country, walking into schools to talk about suicide or eating disorders knowing I had no experience with it. Which lead me to Theologian next. After visiting Luther’s Theology program my mother asked, “What would you do with a theology degree?” Another good question. I have no idea. Next was business owner. I grew up in my mother’s neighborhood craft and gift shop and decided that I, too, could sell items to old ladies looking for something to fill their afternoons. After that came Social Worker. Next was Music Video editor. After that I dabbled in thoughts of hospital pharmacy. Theater director? Speech pathologist? Nothing fit.
When it was my turn to stand up in Mr. Amdahl’s class I said, “I don’t know where I’m headed. I only know what I don’t want to do.” Mr. Amdahl replied, “Eighteen is pretty young to have it all figured out. Just enjoy the ride.”
As I’ve recently seen photos of Ashley interviewing celebrities at the Sundance Film Festival I can’t help but smile. I’m so proud, SO SO proud of her. She’s chasing her dream. She’s doing it.
And then, there’s me. I dig out boogers and read Tinker Bell 12 times a day. I budget repeatedly, organize my Jamberry nail wraps, take selfies with my friends and kids, let the dog out and in again. I email jr high kids’ parents begging them to chaperone. I get to preach once in a while. At night I lay in bed next to my husband listening to him giggle in his sleep. I make grocery lists, pin intriguing recipes and research “Essential oils to use for night sweats”. Was this my dream?
If it wasn’t, it sure as hell is now.
I ended up with friends that I couldn’t possibly survive without, a crazy supportive and loving family, a husband who would travel to the moon and back for me. I have two beautiful daughters who paint on the walls and spill Fun Dip (aka Pixie Dust) all over the carpet.
So why do I love this dream? Because it’s mine.