For as long as I can remember, I have been a dreamer. Frozen puddles became my ice-skating rink, a rickety swing set — my Olympic equipment, trails cut through woods — my escape to Narnia. As a child, the beautiful part about being able to dream was that it was free.Unlike my reality, my dreams didn’t segregate me due to my socio-economic status. They didn’t tell me I didn’t have enough experience. And when I was in the moment, other people’s criticism was non-existent.
Where once stood a fearless girl who tamed lions and performed death-defying stunts in her imaginary circus, now cowered a constricted chameleon who did anything to stay out of view for fear of criticism, chastisement, and rejection.
Inside, I was still that girl who longed to take risks, dance in the middle of a crowded street, or quit my job to travel the world with the Peace Corps, but the me that feared the world’s perception kept her quietly caged inside.
As I aged, my life centered around everyone else. Giving to others made my heart happy. And so, I learned to find contentment and gratitude in the feeling that came with helping others. I would run myself into the ground organizing hat/glove drives for children in need, volunteering my talents to my boys’ school, and depleting our bank account to help others feel loved.
But just as soon as that joy would spark, shame came rushing in like a jealous sibling blowing out the birthday cake candles, shutting the door on joy and replacing it with responsibility, societal constraint, and conviction.
As I aged and my children grew more independent, life threw curveball after curveball. I found myself isolated from the very busyness I had relied on. And it was in this stillness that I realized just how much of myself I had buried.
Life has this way of revealing paths when we are ready. Had I been given this opportunity ten years ago, I would have missed it as I was too consumed by other’s perception of me.
What I didn’t understand when I was younger is that though my body continues to age, my soul, is ageless. The dreamer within still exists. The desire for passion, romance, love, to become a writer, to save animals, to dance in the moonlight, to lasso the sun and swim with the dolphins, to soar the sky with Falcor from The Neverending Story — all of that still exists within me.
I still feel the magic when I watch Titanic as Rose lifts her arms at