“No matter where you are from your dreams are valid.” —Lupita Nyong’o
I stood there, lined up next to others girls, shaking and breathless. I had just finished my officer try outs for drill team (which is dance team for those who aren’t from the south, ha!).
All I could do was look at the wall in front of me. As flowers were presented in order of lowest to highest rank to my teammates, I started breathing deeper.
Was all the work I put myself through for the last two years worth it?
A single blue and white carnation nestled in a small pile of baby’s breath was put in front of my face. Our current team captain had just given the small bouquet to me. I was in shock as everyone around me screamed. My hard work had paid off! Pushing myself during stretches to increase my flexibility, applying constructive criticism to “kick air” and dancing full out during practice had all paid off.
You see, two years before that, I didn’t make the varsity drill team.
When I got an envelope with a “sorry, you didn’t make it” kind of letter, my heart shattered. Almost all of my friends had moved on to varsity for our sophomore year. At the time, I didn’t know how to respond because I was and felt left behind. Should I stay another year on junior varsity and work my tail off to join my friends or should I just quit and take a physical education class instead?
After picking myself up from my pity party, I realized that I hadn’t taken my dancing seriously. All my friends that did make it, took their practice seriously. Maybe I was getting my bearings straight during my freshman year, but one thing I do know is that I didn’t work as hard as I had thought leading up to try outs.
So, I decided to stay another year and work harder.
The following year, I made varsity. And made it again for my senior year. My skills were improving and my attitude as a dancer changed. I took dancing seriously and the Spring before senior year, a few of our officers approached me about trying out for their positions for my final year in high school. Honestly, I said no because those conversations took me back to when I didn’t make it to varsity back during my sophomore year.
After several teammates encouraging me, I decided to put my all into the try out process.
I still believe that dancing in my front of my director, principal and judges was a lot scarier than 14,000 people, haha! When I had made captain, my friend who had made major came up to me to congratulate me. She then told me it was a really close call. I had learned that our final scores were really close. For the first time in my life, at the age of 17, I believed in myself and my abilities.
I was surprised and happy at the same time. Why? Because I knew I had made her work hard to earn her rank. It was during my high school years did I understand what it was like to dream and work hard to achieve my dreams.
To this day, I’m proud of what I accomplished during my years in dance.
However, I can’t say I feel the same for where my life is today.
Upon reflecting these last few weeks, I’ve realized that I had forgotten how to dream. I had also forgotten to work hard for my dreams and fight for them. I had forgotten how to believe in myself, to try and see what happens, and really understand delayed gratification.
It’s true when I say that I miss my younger, courageous self. I miss just automatically taking action towards what I want without even giving fear a second to creep into my mind and heart. Now, more than ever, I understand the importance of guarding my heart (Proverbs 4:23), to protect it from negative thoughts, people’s opinions, and my own fear.
Here I am in my early 30s and I’m learning how to dream again. I wish how I operated when I was younger would automatically come back. Life certainly would be a lot easier.
If I’m being honest, learning how to dream again, to dream God-sized dreams is HARD.
For me, one way I’m teaching myself to be more courageous, to believe in myself even more than I do now is to create a vision board. I had one, but got rid of it between moves these last several years. However, I didn’t keep going with it because I had forgotten to learn how to dream again even though some of my dreams came true on my old board.
Anyway, this past weekend, I ripped out so many pages of old magazines to set aside for my new vision board. Everything from my favorite car, styles of homes I love, handbags, shoes, and a lifestyle that I would want is going on that board. Even if I don’t believe it’ll happen (yet), it’s a small step in the right direction to learning how to dream big again, to reteach myself that nothing I want is out of reach.
I’ve got one life to live so why not try to learn how to dream big, right?
What about you? Are you happy with who you are and how you’re approaching your life/dreams?
If not, have you thought about learning to how to dream again? What about making a vision board? Let me know in the comments!
Image via Nicole White