I believe youth is the chance to forget the rest of the world and just focus on your own little one so one day you can figure out your place in it.
In high school I wanted to be a forensic scientist (because I loved CSI), date the class clown, and be a super popular wise cracking couple. In college I fell in love with writing and yearned to move to North Carolina (partly due to Nicholas’ Sparks portrayal of its beauty in every novel) and marry a reporter to become this journalism power couple of the south. Now I’m not claiming these are big dreams, but I worked my ass off for them. My senior year of high school I took Anatomy 2, Chemistry 2 and Physics. I even drove to the crush’s house and put a can of chicken noodle soup on his porch when he was sick because I was a hopeless romantic. In college I stayed up late, skipped some (not all) partying and worked my butt off to get good grades in journalism, then I moved to NC with a nanny gig just to get there and left one of the reporter boys in the dust hoping for him to pull through with a big romantic gesture.
Obviously none of my youthful dreams panned out. I’m not combing through DNA, married to my high school sweetheart, living in NC or part of the noon news power couple. But that’s okay because new dreams replace the old ones and you realize that the old ones sufficed at the time but just like old shoes, don’t really quite fit right now, so you feel a little fit of glee as you toss them in the trash and know you will never wear them again.
Well a year and a half ago I didn’t have a dream, big or small. I racked my brain trying to think of what I wanted to do. I remembered my college professor, Neff saying at graduation that I wanted to travel internationally and work for a non-profit. I realized I had not taken a single step in the direction of that dream. So, I started working toward it. Now I’m here working for the USO in Afghanistan and I love it, but like the dreams in the past one day I will eventually out grow it, and scour for another that fits better.
Throughout all of these fleeting dreams of my youth, there has always been one thing that has brought me pleasure that I haven’t had to force and hasn’t disappointed me in any way like all the dreams before.
Since as young as I can remember our family dinner time was wrought with my sisters interjecting in the middle of one of my wretchedly long drawn out dream sequence stories that “nobody cares, Sarah” or “get to the point already, snotface!” Yet my parents would always hush the table and encourage me to finish as I would meander my way through the riveting climax of the nightmare I had with some big scary animal that was doing something horrible at some point in some kind of woodland scene that was somewhere. In high school I would make up stories my friends and I called “scenarios” about sweeping romantic gestures our crushes would make (not a single one happened, they were more the fodder for Dawson Creek scripts than how a real live high school boy would ever act). In college I wrote stories in my journalism classes and for the school newspaper, The Parthenon. For the past two years I told the story of my college experience to prospective students every day.
Now, I tell my story here. I tell soldiers’ stories here. I tell the stories of my family, friends, roommates, coworkers, vacations, tragedies, triumphs, and training.
This is how I live a dream I never knew I always had.