When I was a kid, a neighbor loaned me their bootleg copy of a movie I don't think I was supposed to watch. The Goonies quickly became a personal classic and I literally memorized it. Part of the infatuation was my huge crush on Sean Astin.
Last week, for whatever reason, I started thinking about that scene in the wishing well, the one where Mouth steals the coins and Steph says "You can't do that. Those are somebody else's wishes. Somebody else's dreams."
And Mouth says, "Well, you know what? This one right here...this was my dream--my wish--and it didn't come true. So I'm taking it back. I'm taking them all back."
But I get it. Sometimes dreams don't come true.
I've always been a big dreamer...
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor. It was the only thing I really loved...and it took me awhile to figure out that it was okay for me to not love the things everyone else loved. I wasn't good at sports. I had no athletic ability. I didn't enjoy that kind of play.
But the stage? That got me jazzed.
So that's what I studied. I studied acting. I went to school and majored in theatre. I spent a summer studying in New York and had every intention of returning after I graduated. I had HUGE dreams...
But somewhere along the way, my priorities shifted. Suddenly, I realized I didn't want to live an actor's life. I didn't want to live audition to audition, working all hours. I wanted a family and I didn't want to raise them in the big city.
So, looking back, does that mean I failed? Or that I gave up?
I don't think so. I think it means I found a bigger "Yes."
Maybe there's a dream you had once. You put in the time, the energy, the work, the effort...and it didn't come true. Does that mean you failed?
Or could it be that you, like me, were following your passion--your calling--your gut instinct, even though, in the end, it didn't turn out the way you thought it would?
See, I'm not an actor anymore. I honestly have very little desire to ever be on stage again. But the training I received in pursuing that dream...it is still, to this day, invaluable. As a writer, being able to take on a character, to pull myself into someone else's skin, that's vital.
Because of the time I spent on stage and immersed in scripts, I understand dialogue. I get "show don't tell" a lot better now. I've got a better sense of the storyworld. All of those exercises and experiences make it easier for me to pursue the big dreams I have now.
But that's only part of it. My study of the theatre came out of pure passion and ambition. But now, with that training, I'm able to take what I know and impart it to other people in the shows we direct. Before I made the decision to quit my job, Adam asked me, "When are you the happiest?"
My answer? "When I'm writing, doing art with the kids or directing a show."
See, that big dream became the first layer in uncovering my purpose. That I want to be a famous actress was step one in determining what it was that was going to make me happy. If I hadn't pursued it, I wouldn't know...there would be a big piece of my life that was missing.
Today, as you look back on those big dreams, some of them are still within your reach...but some of them were just step one on the way to something better. Something that you perhaps didn't see before.
Can you stop looking at your bigger "YES" as a failure and start seeing it for what it is? A very important clue to discovering your purpose.
A Question for You: Do you still beat yourself up over dreams that didn't come true?