Monday, July 18, 2011

Oh You Don't Want That - When Others Try to Supervise Your Dreams

Artwork by Jessica Swift.  Visit her Etsy shop at:

I noticed this interesting trend lately with some people in my life-- when I say something I want and they respond with "You don't want that..."  which is a weird response because I'm pretty sure I had just said: I want this...

Sometimes there are reasons after it, "You don't want that because you wouldn't be happy," "That's not for you," "You wouldn't like it..."

It actually took me awhile to realize this game of "Oh, you don't want to do that..." has been going on in my life.  I say what I want and someone who thinks they know me better than me says, "Oh, you don't want to do that..."

What brings this up is with the enormous house project that is going on this summer I realize that I would love to downsize to a smaller house with a smaller yard to maintain and preferably closer to the sea.  (BTW, I'm a Capricorn, we have to talk about something for a few years before it happens-- we are planners so when I say something like "I want to downsize," it doesn't mean next week, it usually means "in 5 years from now.")

Lately, when I say, "I'd love to live on a houseboat" I hear, "No you wouldn't... it's cold, it's too small, it's _________."

My guess is that my dreams aren't in sync with others' dreams or that my dreams/plans/goals don't fit with others' goals.  I also think some fear I would move to far away and we'd lose touch.  I think others are just projecting their feelings about said dream onto me.

This is not new for me.

As I said, I've spent my life saying what I'd like to do and having people say, "Oh, you don't want to do that..."  Or offering various reasons my ideas/dreams/goals are no good.  And for a long time, I fell for it. I believed others' opinions were equal or greater than my own.

Here are two examples of things I did in my 20's that people tried to convince me not to do--

A small example:

When buying my first car, I didn't want to make a mistake so I asked everyone for their advice and everyone told me to get a practical car.  When I said, "But I want a convertible," everyone said, "No you don't.  The roof will leak, you live in Seattle & it rains too much hear to use it."  So I bought my practical car, a smart 4-door Mitsubishi Gallant.  I hated that car.

Every day for one year I regretted my decision to buy that car.  Despite how many people complimented me on the car, on my decision, on all of it, I wanted to sell my 4-door sensible car and buy a 2-seater convertible.  (No, you don't want to do that- where will people sit, what if you have kids, but your car is so smart...)

Finally, realizing I didn't care I made a mistake and I could fix this I sold my 4-door Gallant and I bought a little 2-seater convertible Miata that had no room in the truck, no room inside the car, and was completely impractical-- oh I loved that car!  I was the happiest person in Seattle's rush hour sitting on the freeway listening to music.  And the best part about passengers-- I never had to drive to lunch again because my car was too small (an added benefit I hadn't even planned on!)

A larger example--

I wanted to quit my corporate job in the city and move to a small town of less than 3000 people (a town that requires you to take a ferry ride to get here).  Oh and to make things even more fun, I added "I want to work on my poetry and be a writer."

---Oh you don't want to do that. 

When I told this goal to my friends & co-workers, they started recommending therapists.  People were ready to have my committed.  I was going to leave my job being 6 month early from being "fully vested" in my 401K.  Oh, how could I make these decisions and move to a town where I knew no one.  How could I leave, quit my well-paying secure job and write poetry.  But you keep getting promoted! they said. (They didn't realize, that was part of the problem.) People thought I had lost my mind.

But you'll be so far away.
But the town is tiny, you'll be bored.
But you have to take the ferry all the time.
But you're not in Seattle.
But you won't be able to find a job.
But you'll be sorry.
But but but...

But here's the thing-- my mind has *never* been wired like others.

While other people wanted to go to parties, I wanted to stay home and read.  While other people wanted to talk about what the Spice Girls were doing, I was attending poetry readings.  While other people wanted friends around them all the time, I wanted solitude.  While other people were looking for new homes, I wanted an old house with character.  I didn't want a perfect walkway, I wanted one with cracks from a past earthquake, I wanted a quirky house where none of the corners were exactly square.

So I moved.

I moved from the Seattle area because it was so expensive and I knew to live there I would need to continue working long hours just to afford a house or rent.  I didn't want that. I didn't want the traffic, the commute, and the fact that my writing was being pushed to the side because I was working 60-70 hour weeks.

And it worked out.  (It always does in the end, and if it's not worked out, it's not the end yet.)

But I've noticed the trend again.  The "You don't want to do that..."

Here's the thing I have learned in my life--

My dreams are not sensible, they never have been. I will chose the impractical, but I will be happy.  I will choose what would be a bad decision for a thousand people, but it's perfect for me.  My dreams and goals are just that-- MY dreams and goals.

(Oh and the only place where choosing the impractical has been a problem is with my shoes, that that is whole other lifetime post of poor decisions...)

But it's my choice.

I am always hanging out on my own path and I'm happy here.

My path can include consignment shops and small towns.  It involves working from home and freelancing.  It involves a lot of hope and a lot of work, but it's the work I love.  It involves me saying, "You know, I don't need all the extras in life, just a lot of amazement, wonder, and uniqueness."

It is a constant reminder to me that my dream has never been the norm.

And I'm going to keep saying my goals and hopes and dreams out loud because for me, that helps make them happen.  And when people say, "Oh you don't want to do that..." I will respond:  But I do.  And I will.
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