I was 11 when I began stalking Adam.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time at friend’s houses. One friend had a younger brother who played Little League and she and I would frequently be dragged along to his games. Now, as sophisticated and suave 6th graders, we were well above watching the 8 year old’s play. We were into the big boys.
I developed an intense crush on a 13 year old named Adam. He was tall and thin with long blond hair. The hair was the important part – put some long locks on any boy at the time and I would start drooling. Adam was like Prince Charming and Jon Bon Jovi all rolled into one. The scary thing is that I knew more about Jon Bon Jovi than I did Adam. You see, although I still have an entire roll of pictures of him, I never summoned the nerve to approach him at the field. He went to a different school, so the intel I had on him was scarce and somewhat suspect.
But I didn’t care. I was happy enough to create his personality and interests while watching him run the bases. I’d weave fantasies of us running off together. I had pictures of him in my school binders (binders full of Adam?) and on my walls. He may not have known who I was, but he was a major fixture in my life. This continued for the next two years.
One day I heard my mom call across the house,
Picking up, “Hello?”
“Hey. It’s Adam. From the ballpark?”
I almost dropped the phone. It was a dream come true. I knew he had access to my number through a chain of friends, but I never imagined he would call.
Of course, I tried to play it cool.
“You go to —- high school, right?”
“A friend of mine goes there. Do you know —–?”
“Do you play baseball for the school?”
“Do you play any other sports?”
And that was what the entire conversation was like. All 30 minutes of it. He was nice enough, but he was no Prince Charming and certainly no Jon Bon Jovi. In fact, he was boring. He just happened to have long hair.
When I hung up the phone, I also hung up on my crush on Adam.
That was an easy dream to release. I had little invested in it and, as a boy crazy 13 year old, I had lots of other options on the horizon. He truly was easy come and easy go.
Not all dreams are so easy to release. The more time, effort and energy we have invested in a dream, the more we are committed to holding on even when all signs point to letting go. The more we see the dream as a reflection of ourselves, the tighter the binds to the image.
Dreams can be amazing and powerful motivators that help us make wonderful changes. They can inspire and encourage and carry us through the darkest days.
But some dreams are made entirely of fantasy. In order for a dream to become reality, it must contain elements of truth. If we hold tight to unattainable fantasies, we will never be content.
I faced this cold, hard fact dead on when my husband left. I had held tight to a dream of us growing old together. I saw us hand in hand with wrinkles covering our faces and our heads swathed in gray. That dream was no easy go. It was unbelievably painful as it was ripped from my grasp. But until I released it, I would not be happy.
So, how can you tell which dreams are inspirational and which are detrimental? How do you know if you should hold on or release your dream?
Fact Check: Don’t make the mistake I did with Adam. Check the elements of your dream against reality. Preferably sooner than later. Reality will hit regardless, but it’s nice to anticipate and plan for its arrival. Sometimes, the truth derails the dream entirely and sometimes it is merely a roadblock to work around. Regardless of what it is, awareness is key.
Alignment: Does your dream align with who you are and your core beliefs and needs? I see evidence of ignoring this one in the school system. Many second career teachers (especially in math) started out in fields where they were isolated all day. They had always dreamed of being an accountant/underwriter/etc., but they never though to realize that it didn’t align with their need for social interaction. Cue crushed dream.
Perspective: Sometimes the path to achieve a dream doesn’t become apparent until a new perspective has been gained. You pretty much have two choices here: keep on living and shelve the dream until your experiences give you direction or talk with others and hear their take on your aspirations. Of course, friends don’t always know what’s best. Mine encouraged my fantasies about Adam:)
Shift: Many dreams are not all or none. I’ve had fleeting fancies of running in the Olympics. But, let’s be honest. A 5’2″ 35 year old late in life runner has about as much chance of that as Tiger does of becoming president. So, a gold medal was out, but I could still shift my dream to running a marathon – the kind where they let anyone run:) Maybe the dream is the image that can motivate you to a more realistic reality.
And, for goodness sakes, if you have a crush on someone, don’t wait two years to talk to them!