The Beauty of Childhood Dreams

Do you ever have days where you just want to relive your childhood in all its childhood glory?  Have you ever

stopped to consider the dreams you had as a child of what you would become when you reached the age you now are?

When I was little, I wanted to be an astronaut.  That was always my biggest dream.  I wanted to be the first person to go through a black hole and come out alive.  I had a serious fascination with space and learning about planets and the unknown.  My second biggest dream was to publish a book. I started to write a mystery novel in the third grade about friends who went to a carnival and kept dying off one-by-one.  I didn’t get past page 5 (I had other important things to do in third grade… such as going over to my friend’s house to play “Tornado” in her shed… we always did have pretty active imaginations). Then, after watching “The Voyage of the Mimi,” I really wanted to be a marine biologist.  In junior high I discovered a love of English.  I was always a pretty avid reader, but I really soaked up English classes for the rest of my  academic career like a pasty white girl and sunlight.  I wanted to be a mom, a wife, a teacher, a youth minister, a photographer, a pianist, and maybe even a nun.  All at once.

As a kid, I had a ton of different hobbies.  I liked to play with my friends and ride my bike.  I played tether ball at recess, and was part of the “Slam” scandals on the playground in the 5th grade (“Slam” being a game that we played on those sliding handle things… I don’t even know what they’re called… but some kid broke his arm playing it and it became this really taboo game that all the lunch moms hated us for).  I wrote A LOT.  I’ve kept a journal since I was in 2nd grade, and I had a ton of pen pals… about one from every state, and then a handful more from other countries.  A boy from Ghana proposed to me once in a letter, and I received a letter from a female prisoner in the US (neither of which made my mom very happy at all).  I learned HTML and created a webpage entirely from scratch in 5th grade, called “Sara’s Giggle Page” (OH MY GOSH. blast from the past. Check it out).  I was a bit obsessed with the webpage design thing.  I even entered it into these super great contests (The Rumbles… aw yeahhh).  I loved seeing things that I created being posted on the internet for everyone else to see.  Sidenote: If you want to see evidence of how totally amazing I was at that age, please check out my Diaryland Diary, which I found courtesy of that web archive site. Oh man. Blast from the past.

Anyway.  Pen-palling.  Creating works of genius on the WWW.  I also read a lot, played the piano for hours and volunteered a lot at church.  I really adored the Internet when it came out, and I spent a lot of my free time playing games on Yahoo (particularly Pool… I even joined one of these online pool leagues where I would get online at specified times and played in legit online tournaments with people).

And now I’m 22-years-old, recently graduated, looking for work, and I have no idea where to go in life.  I don’t know if I chose the right area of study. I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything that will make me genuinely happy.  I’m afraid.  And then I thought… what would 5th grade me say to me?  The one who designed webpages and played Yahoo Pool and was proposed to by the boy in Ghana?  The one who obsessively practiced piano for 2 or 3 hours a day because after she learned she would have to study physics to be an astronaut, she realized that she wanted to go to Julliard to become a concert pianist, and who believed that she could.  5th grade me had some real chutzpah.  5th grade me dreamed of being an award-winning webpage designer, concert pianist, writer, photographer, and wife of Justin Timberlake, and she believed she could do it all.  She went out and TRIED it. She had some balls for a girl.

There is something to be said for the dreams of our childhood.  There is something worth listening to.  Maybe 5th grade me had it figured out better than 22-year-old me.  Maybe if we ever get stuck with where we want to go in life, we should take a hint from the child versions of ourselves.  Maybe I should take some time to pick up some pen pals, practice more piano, and copy and paste more pictures of my face next to my newest celebrity love interests (hellooo, Matthew McConaughey…).  Maybe I need to cut the crap out of my life… cut out the extreme wish for that perfect job and moving out, cut out the pressure to do something I hate for the sake of making money to pay bills, cut out the parts where I keep trying to be something I’m not… where I keep trying to be that sexy chick flipping her hair at boys in bars, or a sports fan (in general… even pretending that I like sports at all), or an intellectual who enjoys reading non-fiction or even classic literature.   Maybe I just need to embrace myself for who I am… an awkward yet adorable young woman, who has acquired a taste and appreciation for beer but doesn’t enjoy a crazy bar scene, who loves a good competition between friends and still enjoys the anonymity of the Internet, who is still afraid of talking to cute boys but who recognizes that at least on some level she is beautiful, and who needs to have  more confidence in herself and her abilities because really, with the gifts she has been given, she can change the world.  It’s okay that I haven’t figured it out yet… because God created me with a different mission in mind.

So. What would your 5th-grade self say to you today?  What did you want to be when you grew up? Have you truly lived the dream?