I’m in a stalemate with myself. I don’t know where I’m going or what I want to be when I grow up. At forty-one, you’d have figured that I would have decided that by now. But like most people, I did what I had to do. I got a job to pay the bills, and I never stopped to think about it. I did what I had to do.
The dreams of childhood make miserable adults.
When I heard that saying for the first time, I felt it deep within my soul. All of my unfulfilled dreams had made me miserable. I couldn’t get past what I thought should have been to live happily in what I have. And the disconnect between the two made me want to give up.
I believe that if you’re the kind of person who looks for signs, you’ll see them everywhere. People often expect a sign to be in the form of a burning bush in their front yard, but the Universe or God, whatever you would like to call it, is a little more subtle.
I’ve had signs come to me through people who just happened to call or a dream that answered a lingering question. But no matter what question I ask, I always get a response.
I have a love-hate relationship with writing.
I used to be enamored with the ways in which my mind would string together sentences to build worlds where such scintillating tales happened. That all changed when I started writing online, and metrics became a measurement of whether you were any good or not. The number of books you sold, a measure of successful you were. I measured my level of talent against how many fans, claps, and the money I made. I forgot that talent, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
I grew envious as I watched my peers find success while I still slugged away. I wanted to be where they stood. I wanted the life they seemed to have. I wanted their success for myself. And every year I went undiscovered, my self-confidence dwindled just a little more. Until I finally decided to ask for a sign. I asked God to tell me if I was wasting my time. Not fifteen minutes later, I received an email from an editor asking to see more of my work.
It could have been a coincidence, and naysayers like my friends will tell me so. But if you’re a person that believes in signs, you’ll see signs everywhere.
I often believe I’m too old to start over. To forge a new path at forty-one to me seems preposterous. But for a lot of people, it’s when their careers started to take off finally. Or it’s the age where they decided it was time to stop working for a paycheck and do what makes them happy.
I’ve been trying to figure out what would make me happy. But not happy in the sense that I never have a bad day but just contentment with my life and it’s meaning. I want to do something that matters, not only to me but to other people as well. I often feel like I’m behind the 8-ball when it comes to life and that I’ll never catch up, and that the goals that I set for myself are unattainable. That my childhood dreams of being an author weren’t put there to make me miserable because I never quite brought it to life.
And then I had the dream.
I’ve had this dream before, but I’ve never bothered to look up its meaning. I’m in a big house, the kind of house people dream of living in someday. It has lots of rooms, a huge backyard, a large expansive kitchen. I’ve never seen a house like this before. It’s only three floors, but each floor has so many rooms that you could lose yourself in them. It’s an old house, and it needs some upgrading. The previous owners started the process and left it for us to finish. The kitchen has tile missing. The bedrooms only have beds and no closets. The basement is a dank open space in need of remodeling.
The house itself is in a great neighborhood, but the area worsens if you walk two blocks in any direction. This is the point where I find myself alone and scared. No one ever bothers me, but I feel like something terrible will happen, and I need to return home. But I can never find my way back to the house. Once I leave it, I can never return. The harder I try to get back, the more lost I become.
I used to think the dream was literal, that one day I would have a big house. But something so repetitious had to have a deeper meaning. The house symbolizes me. I am a work in progress, never quite finished. And I don’t think I’m meant to be. My home is still livable, the walls are exposed, and it needs an update, but that’s okay.
I could see my dreams as just the firing of images in my mind as I enter the REM stage of sleep. But I’m a person who believes in signs, so I see them everywhere. My recurring dreams of the same house are a sign for me to keep working on myself and my craft. Eventually, it will all come together, but it’s not going to be overnight. I have to trust that my vision will become a reality and keep working until it does. But in the meantime, I have to remember to enjoy what I have so far. It may not be exactly what I wanted but it’s still good.
That knowledge doesn’t take away my envy. It doesn’t help me feel less like a failure. And it certainly doesn’t spur me forward with renewed energy for my craft. But it does give me hope that there is a someday out there for me as long as I keep writing.