November 11, 2010 | 1:46 pm
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
Several months ago I made a big, gutsy cross-country move, leaving a college that simply felt wrong. I don’t regret this decision; if nothing else it’s made me feel brave, accomplished, and that almost anything is possible. However, now I find myself unemployed, a “college drop-out” (with intentions to transfer when I attain state residency next year), and almost entirely without community. Though aware that I am unsatisfied, I’m unsure of where to turn from here. My family urges me to come home, but I’m reluctant to admit defeat. Should I stick it out and follow my original plan until things fall into place? Or is it time for retreat? Perhaps there is some middle ground?
Lost in the Possibilities
I give you an applause and a standing ovation from my little studio. Hoorah for leaping and feeling brave and for facing the terrifying reality of possibility, expansion and change. Alas, those good things come with a heavy underbelly. Think about the matrix existence of Alice in Wonderland, “sometimes I dream as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
I went home to my parents twice after college, tail tucked and all. Both times were prompted because my life was in actual danger. That was when I knew I needed home and family, when I knew it was time to abandon the plan. I think this is a good law to follow: pursue dreams unless health/life are threatened. Then, put dreams on lay away while addressing pressing needs in immediate reality.
One thing no one tells us is how awful it can be, en route to the palace of our delights. I have had some amazing and good things happen in my life, but never without a price. In the end, only you know if this new place is a land of possibilities or a dead-end. Only you know if your dream is one of heart or one of ego, one of real positive trajectory, or one based on running away from another life.
Nick Friedman of College Hunks Hauling Junk, a kid I went to high school with, recently suggested people read this. It is like a ouji board of your own future. He wants people to make a collage of things they desire, a board that outlines the specifics of their dreams. My dad had a book on the same topic, I used to read it years ago, called Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Creative What You Want In Your Life by Shakti Gawain. Same concept: only one from a self-help guru, and the other from the author of Effortless Entrepreneur: Work Smart, Play Hard, Make Millions.
The unifying idea is to outline your goals so you can start visualizing them. The clearer the vision, the more you begin to shape your life towards it. And remember, the closer you get to your vision, the more things might feel like they are falling apart around you, when, in fact, they may just be falling into place.
Parents, friends from home and relatives can be tricky and often interfere with clarity of vision. Do not let their fear become your fear. Make sure they aren’t, in their attempts to console and comfort you, clipping your wings. I don’t think anyone gets on the phone with this intention, but people’s desires to have their friends and daughters near to them often translate as “don’t fly!” If all birds stayed in their nests, I think those nests would get top-heavy and fall off the tree.
One therapist once told me that my job, as a human, was to leave home and find my place in the world. That this, despite their efforts to squeeze me and keep me near, would be the ultimate way to make my parents proud. Find your own voice. Make that ouji board collage: focus on and locate the specifics of your goals. Giving up kills the soul. Only give up if your actual life is in danger, if you are hurting yourself in any number of ways, or if you feel completely blind.
Start being your own cheerleader. Write yourself kind notes, keep a log of what you did well and right each day. Pat yourself on the back whenever you can. In order to stay strong, you need to build an internal voice that will drive you. As my cousin once said, listening to my low self-esteem as a teenager: “If you don’t believe in yourself, you may as well be sitting on the bench.” You, I am guessing, are more like the star player than the bench warmer.
Your vision sounds alive and clear, so I encourage you to fly far, fly hard and fly high. Know that it won’t be easy, that there will be moments that you will be sure you are insane or lost or completely stupid. But if you have faith in a greater plan for your own life, those moments will be quick, and the fruits of your intent measureless.
For more help building dreams try:
The Creative Visualization Workbook by Shakti Gawain
The Millionaire Course: A Visionary Plan For Creating the Life of Your Dreams by Marc Allen
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
The Complete Vision Board Kit: Using the Power of Intention and Visualization to Achieve Your Dreams by John Assaraff
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