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  • SuePattonThoele

Selling Your Dreams Short

There are few greater disappointments than realizing our lives have been a series of compromises that have caused us to sell our dreams short. Selling our dreams short is selling ourselves short and setting the stage for regrets, “what ifs,” and “if onlys.”

As a hospice volunteer I am privileged to be with people at the end of their lives. As you might imagine, the fewer regrets a person has, the more readily they meet death with courage, grace, humor, and equanimity. However, when patients feel they have not lived the life their personal dreams indicated, the path to death’s door is strewn with regrets.

You don’t need to let that happen to you. It’s never too late to recall your dreams and pursue them enthusiastically. If you have lost touch with your dreams and desires, a good way to retrieve them is to remember what you dreamed of doing and being as a kid. I wanted to be an actress. As a little girl, I would play out the parts I’d seen in movies. My favorite reenactment was being Tarzan and swinging from tree to tree (leaping from bed to bed when my parents weren’t home), lugging Jane (my pillow), and bellowing a blood-curdling yell.

Although I acted in plays in high school and college, for the most part during my first marriage and the first few years of this marriage, I squashed the acting bug because it inconvenienced my family. But the bug refused to die and my resentment definitely flourished, so I gathered up my courage and went back to acting when I was forty. For ten wonderful years, I thoroughly enjoyed being part of an excellent community theater group. After that, I was honestly satiated and could say, “Been there, done that.”

Another dream that will not die is Jill’s dream of motherhood. Since she was six years old, Jill has wanted to get married and be a mommy. But fate can be fickle and uncooperative at times and, at thirty-eight, Jill is an unmarried career woman whose desire for marriage and a family has not abated. Although she realizes that single parenthood will not be easy, Jill also feels she is meant to be a mother and that her life will not feel complete without a child. After much thought, Jill has decided to fulfill the part of her dream that she can and is in the process of adopting an infant. I admire her courage and determination not to sell her dream short.

What did you dream of when you were a little girl and an early teen? What do you love to do now? What do people tell you your talents are? What makes you feel whole and happy when

you do it? Discovering the answers to these questions can help you find and follow your dreams.

We experience cycles of passionate interest during our lifetime and dreams may change as a result. But, no matter how they appear, dreams remain an integral part of who we are. If we slay persistent dreams on the altar of practicality or other people’s desires, we sacrifice a crucial part of our creative self that yearns for expression. The price is too high when we sell our dreams short. Please start making yours a reality while you are still able.

When I was young and feeling low, my dad used to tell me, “It’s just one of those little valleys on the highway of life.” I didn’t much appreciate the statement then, but I’ve since come to understand how right he was. If we are to enjoy the “high ways” of life, we need to find the courage to Stretch Out And Risk by experiencing the valleys as well.

Excerpted from The Courage to Be Yourself by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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