Reflections

Practical Dreams

I wanted to be a Broadway singer for pretty much as long as I could remember. Or, I guess as long as I could remember after first wanting to be an inventor–complete with a backyard shed full of chemical beakers. On my path to inventor fame, I took up violin just because I heard Einstein played as a child. “Couldn’t hurt,” I thought. And then I checked out Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire from the library because I learned Thomas Edison read it before age eight and I wanted to beat him.

I didn’t.

After my talent for the stage went undiscovered, I moved on to pursuing something less exciting: President of the United States. I spent my teenage years with nextprez35 as my AIM (remember that??) username while aiming for a perfect SAT score to guarantee a spot at Yale: the first step on my rise to power as the youngest POTUS in history.

I didn’t go to Yale.

Photo by Ales Krivec, Creative Commons
Photo by Ales Krivec, Creative Commons

But I did find new goals, like becoming a student senator, getting a job, and buying a car. And then saw even more dreams come to life, like helping people in need, earning my master’s degree, going to Europe, completing a half marathon, and marrying the best man I’ve ever met.

But somehow in the mix, my dreams have become more practical. Dreams that now include things like “financial security,” “health,” and “stability.” Dreams that require me to examine the the earning power, occupational growth rate, and retirement benefits of any future career decision. In other words, not a Broadway singer.

But here’s the thing: I think I’ve accomplished my goals. Being accepted into a competitive PhD program was kind of the last thing on my list and even if, for some (drastic) reason, I don’t finish, I’m still set with education and experience that will keep me employed and financially secure for the rest of my career.

Photo by Joshua Earle, Creative Commons
Photo by Joshua Earle, Creative Commons

However, there’s something about achieving this security that makes me want to return to my unpractical dreams. Something about reaching my goals has made me realize that I needΒ new ones. Yes, I could take my PhD and work in a clinic for the rest of my life and achieve continued “stability” or I could use it to work for the United Nations to solve global psychological concerns while embracing adventure. I could use my LCSW to continue working as a therapist or to run a national non-profit.

Or I could take this conducting class I’ve been eyeing.

I think I’ve been making a lot of decision to be “safe.” But safety can stifle you. And job growth rates can distract you from your gifts, low salaries can change your path, and a 401(k) can dim your spirit.

I think the world can handle a few more unpractical dreams.

Lindsay Sig

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26 comments on “Practical Dreams

  1. Very nice post! Broadway huh?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. its so nice of you to share that…it is true that some of the goals and dreams we have are not really meant to happen..but a far better dream is about to come soon..

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  3. I can so relate. I wanted to be a ballerina–but I was the clumsiest kid ever. Then I wanted to be a computer programmer, until I figured out it wasn’t playing Carmen San Diego. Then I wanted to be a National Geographic photojournalist/zoologist–except I hated working in the field. Writer always felt right, but wasn’t practical enough–so I ended up settling and working a very practical job that kind of chose me. And I’ve done it for 15+ years, with one great escape into teaching that almost broke my spirit. Right now, I’m hatching more great escapes…and holding on to all my crazy dreams. I just don’t know how to give them up. But the practical stuff keeps making its way into my life, whether I like it or not. I guess I’m learning what I really value and what really matters. And still trying to do all of it.

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  4. I can relate to this as well. I am at a stage in my life where I have to change the direction where I’m going and make decisions. In fact, I have been taking some risks lately and while it didn’t turn out as planned, somehow new opportunities evolve … I know exactly what kind of doctor I want to be but I there is a long way ahead. I enjoyed reading this post, as it somehow gave me new hope? Wish you all the best with your PhD! My sister just got hers, I know it’s a really hard time… xoxo Deniza

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really enjoyed this post. I do think a lot of people can relate! Music was my life for a long time and I always told myself I wanted to have a job that would involve music in some capacity…and then I became an accountant. Now my dreams involve less of me and more of my family. Sometimes our dreams are fluid and can change over time as we change and grow, but I guess the important thing is that we have dreams, no matter what they are! πŸ™‚

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    • So true! I’m looking forward to many more stages of sharing! And I didn’t realize you were an accountant! My dad is one, so I’m always a fan. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I am! And it’s funny you say that, because my dad’s a PhD! Also, I just saw the previous comment – my husband is in residency right now! That’s what brought us to Louisiana πŸ™‚

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      • So many similarities! How fun! My hubby is just starting his first year, so we have a little while, but he loves it! He was a biochemist for a while first, lol. What type of residency is your husband doing?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I love it! He is doing Orthopedic Surgery, which is a 5 year residency. That’s awesome that your husband was a biochemist previously! He probably has so much great experience that will help him. Medical school can be a challenge at times, but it sounds like he’s got a great support system in you! πŸ™‚ Yay for both of you going after your dreams!

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  6. I still want to be on Broadway. I totally agree that world can handle a few more unpractical dreams. Keep dreamin. No one should stop you.

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  7. Awesome post!!! Completely agree with you on so many levels!!! I love safety and security like you but also crave the wild and unpredictable side of things. I guess like all things happy medium?

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  8. So so true!! The impractical can set our hearts and lives in motion:) Congrats on working on your PhD!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this post! Pretty sure I had some seriously unrealistic goals while growing up too (becoming the new Britney Spears, haha). But, trying to achieve those, mostly, unrealistic dreams is what caused me to find other things I loved in life…. so, I would agree. Having a crazy dream here and there is what keeps you looking up, and might even make you discover something new you never even knew you would loved.

    Liked by 1 person

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