Accepting The Life I Never Wanted

23 Jan

If I could change one aspect of my childhood, it would have been the time I spent imagining how my life would turn out when I was “all grown up.”  Although how to dissect and separate the time spent planning my future (useless, unnecessary) from the time spent dreaming big dreams (essential, exhilarating) is something I have yet to figure out.

My life was not going to be lived in a city unless that city was D.C.  That was certain. And, although I loved soccer as a child, and still do, I am fairly certain my life was never going to involve running or biking or anything with the word Insane or Tough Mudder in it. The only ultras I planned on were ultra-reading sessions.  I did want a graduate degree but I was pretty sure no one would ever pay me to get one and I couldn’t imagine putting so much of my own hard-earned cash into it. I was going to live either very far away from home (overseas) or very close by (NH).  None of this in-between stuff.

This photo was never part of my dreams.  Tailgating? Eating grilled marinated chicken and wearing sports apparel and playing with a football?  Not in my dreams. Sorry to disappoint, but it really wasn’t.

This photo was even less a part of my dreams. In fact, I’ve only looked at it once since a friend sent it to me because it makes me laugh so much.  Ok, to be fair, possibly every girl dreams of at least one occasion where six guys (plus the one taking the photo, minus the one entertaining my friends while I apparently entertained his)  stand completely still listening to every word she says (what the heck was I saying? And why was anyone listening?) I have never felt such adoration before.  Granted, I think the dream doesn’t usually involve parking lot + jeans + running sneakers.  But hey, girls can’t be too choosy.

  • I never dreamed that I’d be excited about tailgating.  Or that I’d have to choose between tailgating with my friends and tailgating with some hockey celebs (I made the right choice!).
  • I never dreamed that I’d be able to talk to strangers.  Even if they are friends of my friend. That I’d go from not knowing someone and 20 minutes later, be laughing hysterically with them.
  • I never dreamed that I’d be knowledgeable about sports.  Knowledgeable enough to hold my own (and some) in a conversation with 7 passionate sports fans.  That a bunch of guys would actually listen to my sports analysis.
  • I never dreamed that I’d run a marathon.  On a fractured foot.  Then take a final exam for an MBA that my work is paying for me. Then throw up the night before Thanksgiving and  miss out on most of the deliciousness.  Then catch a bus to my friend’s boyfriend’s parent’s house (who I’d never met before). That I’d lose at Monopoly (that definitely never entered into my competitive dreams!). And a week to the day of the Philly marathon, be back in Philly, walking and talking and breathing sports.  Posing in this photo articulating some important point with my hands (another thing I DO not do – talk with my hands. I’m blaming the beer.)
We don’t all get to live the life that we want. That we think we need to live. In fact, I believe that none of us do. If I had the life I wanted, if everything was ideal, if everything was as I had imagined it, how disappointing and boring would that be?  Nothing left to dream about and push towards?  My best moment would be now.  Instead of waiting for me in the future.
We don’t all get to live the life that we want. Because those dreams might be big ones but they don’t typically include pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. My dreams never included talking to strangers, the rush of fun I feel presenting to a large audience, the pit in your stomach as the race announcer begins to speak. I never dared dream about changing who I was to be a better version of me and yet it is happening.
We don’t all get to live the life that we want. But we get to live the life that is given to us.  A life that is full of ups and downs, sometimes circular in nature. We don’t dream of a life that involves tears and heartache and rejection but those things make the joyful-loving-strong parts so much more beautiful.
My childhood dreams were big but shallow.  My real life is full of depth.  And grit.  I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will continue to dream. And then continue to be grateful when reality never quite matches my dreams. And takes me places I never dared hope that I would go.
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