“Dream Big”

I think my main problem in finding a path in life is that I have an over-active imagination.  Not in the I-think-there-are-wolves-hiding-under-the-bed-after-watching-“Beauty and the Beast” kind of way, but in a different, more subtle way. Maybe I watch too many Hollywood endings to Cinderella stories or read too many books about Clare-and-Henry romances. But everything in my life just seems so…ordinary.

I once had a boyfriend who would constantly laugh and tell me, “You sure dream big.”  In college I majored in English, emphasis in rhetoric (sidenote: this is probably why I am still unemployed…not a lot of demand for those in this economy).  Originally I had planned to major in English with an emphasis in creative writing, but my data analyst father managed to convince me that was just impractical.  Anyway, I would sniff and say, “When my book is published and I get a million dollar book deal, I will dedicate it to you with the words ‘dream big’ and then I will retire to my ranch in Wyoming where I will sit on my wrap-around porch and drink iced tea and watch the sunset with my husband and my babies.” To which he replied, “You watch too many movies.”  And maybe I do.

The reason I ultimately majored in English was not because I couldn’t find anything else I liked.  Paradoxically, I liked everything else too much. I changed majors every semester like some girls changed boyfriends. First it was hospitality business management, I wanted to be a wedding planner and plan lavish lily-strewn ceremonies and arrange color-coordinated vases with marbles in them. Then it was archeology; I wanted to be a paleontologist and move to Montana where I would spend my days in the dust digging up dinosaur bones, just like Ellie Satler in Jurassic Park.  Then it was nursing, I wanted to wear scrubs and take care of the elderly all day and get my hands dirty and “make a difference.”  Then I went to New York City for spring break with the Apparel Design department and wanted to become a fashion writer, stroll the streets of SoHo in my Manolos and work at Vogue.  After a few courses in graphic design, I changed that to a graphic designer/copy writer and work on Vogue’s website.  I wanted to move to Juneau, Alaska and become a wildlife photographer.  I wanted to move to Jackson, Wyoming and marry a cowboy and write novels. The list was endless. And the thing was, I could completely imagine myself doing each and every one of those things, as different as they may seem.  And when I say “completely imagine” I mean like a movie reel playing in my mind complete with slo-mo and glow-y lighting and a soundtrack.  They appealed to different aspects of my overly-imaginative nature, I guess. I couldn’t pick one because I loved them all equally.  I just couldn’t decide. (This seems to be a running theme in my life…more on that later.)  But finally I settled on English. It appealed to me because it incorporated any and all interests I might have.  Once while on a website entitled, ironically, “Practical Jobs For English Majors” (HA!) I discovered this:

“Mr. Clemente said, “Put your heads down on your desks and listen to the rain.”  I didn’t know then that I wanted to be a writer, but I knew this was magic and I wanted more and more of it.  English majors in college show up in my writing workshops years later, after trying a career in another field, because a dream was born in them back in school when they read Dostoyevski, Thomas Mann, and Virginia Woolf, and they can’t get it out of their heads.  So after a few years as computer programmers, they see it doesn’t give them that hard rain in the afternoon outside the window.  They know there is something else and that it’s in their own brain.  I honor English majors.  It’s a dumb thing to major in.  It leads nowhere.  It’s good to be dumb, it allows us to love for no reason.  That’s the best kind of love.” Natalie Goldberg, “Wild Mind,” 140.

I don’t know who Natalie Goldberg is, or whether “Wild Mind” is a novel or a self-help book, but this pretty much sums up my thoughts exactly.  Now, I am right back where I started because, it turns out, feeling that hard rain in the afternoon does NOT pay the bills! Quelle surprise.  So now I feel as though to choose a path will forever define me as one thing or the other.  (Ignore the fact that the average person today changes careers what, six times? Nine times?). I’m scared. What if I choose the wrong one?

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~ by Bitterroot Buttercup on August 13, 2009.

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