When we grow up, we all have dreams that we lock away in a box never to be seen again. But does it have to be that way? Are we ever too old to dream? Are we ever too old to #hitrefresh and start all over again?
When I was a kid I sang all the time. As a child, my dreams were endless. I dreamed of being Christine in the Phantom of the Opera, the voice of a Disney Princess, and the next Celine Dion. I wanted to be the first female baseball player in Major League Baseball, and write speeches like Martin Luther King Jr. I taught myself Braille and aspired to be a human rights activist for those without a voice. As I got older, my dreams evolved into more reachable goals: to be a diplomat or work for the United Nations. I went on to study 6 languages, travel the world, teach and finally join a multinational corporation to work up the ranks. Now, decades later, where did all of those dreams go?
Last year was a year of incongruity. We bought a house, we had a beautiful, thriving 1-year-old, and I moved into what I thought would be a dream job. But in that same year, my husband lost his dream job, we almost lost that beautiful 1-year-old and the big risk I took, delving into a new profession, didn’t turn out to be the dream job I thought it would be.
The CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella talks a lot about the idea of hitting refresh, that we are all faced with moments in life that cause us to reflect on our purpose and what’s important. This past year has been a giant #hitrefresh moment for me. When you are faced with true fear, in my case almost losing my daughter, it forces you to look at your life and reflect: reflect on what matters to you, on who matters to you, on where you spend your time, on how you spend your time, on the impact you are making daily and whether that impact is enough to fill your cup anymore.
Over the last 9 months I have spent a lot of time in hospitals and clinics. I have seen nurses caring for children, some who would live and some who would die. I have seen them bring laughter to kids waiting for their next blood draw and be the shoulder to cry on when it hurt. I have seen doctors performing magic and saving lives. These people make a difference everyday in the most real way. No one can dispute it, no one can disagree. They can get to the end of everyday, no matter how difficult, and know that what they did mattered, that it was appreciated and that it changed someone’s life.
When I reflect on my many passions, singing, cultural diversity, human rights, I realize that I have stopped engaging in the majority of them as an adult. After my first few years at university, I stopped singing. After graduating, my dreams of the UN were replaced with less risky and more practical steps towards corporate America. Since starting a new job last year, I don’t get to use all the languages I worked so hard to master or the cultural competency developed through years of studying, travelling, living and engaging around the world at work anymore.
So I’ve decided that it’s enough. I’m too young to give up on my dreams, and now, too committed to building a life of purpose.
Over the last 9 months I have reintroduced myself to singing. I started voice lesson again, began using Garageband and iMovie to upload songs to my Youtube Channel, I competed in a Karaoke competition (I came in second… ok, I actually came in the third but I’m convinced the person who came in 2nd had pity votes), I wrote a song and went to Nashville to record it. That last one is a dream I never knew I had, until I was in the studio and realized that it was definitely a dream. Connected to my purpose, I have gotten in touch with a local non-profit that funds a global child health program to provide medical care to children living in poverty.
Now to figure out how to make a difference by connecting passion to purpose is the question. Stay tuned….