Yesterday I had to do something very difficult for me. I had to pull my name out of the running for a fellowship being put on by one of the best creative nonfiction magazines in the country. If I had been accepted to the fellowship, it probably would have set the foundation for a writing career (which I want very badly).
The fellowship would have required me to either move to Pittsburgh for five to six weeks or to travel to Pittsburgh every week for five to six weeks. My husband and I went through every possibility – him and I making a roundtrip flight there once a week, or me renting an apartment and him coming as frequently as possible. No matter how we planned it out, in the end, I had to admit that I would be unable to handle it. There are no direct flights from here to Pittsburgh so the travel each way would have been over nine hours. Making two nine hour flights once a week for six weeks may very well have caused me to have an episode from anxiety, lack of sleep, disrupted routine (for a prolonged period of time) and pushing myself too hard.
No matter how much I wanted that fellowship, both my husband and I know that there is nothing that is worth doing where the end result is psychosis. I have to accept that some dreams that I have will never come true.
What does it mean to tell your heart that something you dream about is impossible? So many people preach at us daily to find our passion, to give up everything for it. Those same people tell us that if you work hard enough you will eventually succeed. Those platitudes and motivational speeches are not true in many circumstances. If I took every motivational speaker to heart, it would be so easy to end up feeling like a failure.
The reality is that for most of us, not all of our dreams are going to come true. But rather than mourn the loss of those dreams and possibly end up feeling bitter, we can create new dreams. We can set new goals, have new plans and eventually come up with dreams that are within our reach.
I don’t want to dissuade anyone from reaching for the stars. Many people have reached them, but for me personally, and for many others, there are plenty of splendid things that can be achieved on a sandy beach or on a mountain trail. I can reach down and pick up a seashell and that can be every bit as rewarding and fulfilling as capturing a star. One person looks up while the other looks down – treasure abounds. We simply need to change our perspective.