Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Dreamed a Dream

Today, I am not referring to the famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr. Instead, I am talking about my own dreams. The title refers to the song from Les Miserables, as sung by Fantine. The video quality is a bit bad, because it was shot in the days of VHS, but it just felt wrong to post any version that wasn't sung by the original Fantine, Patti LuPone.

Personally, I hope that my dreams turn out a little better than hers. After all, she died in the end (sorry for the spoiler) because her dream involved marrying a man who got her pregnant and left her to fend for herself. When her colleagues found out that she had a child out of wedlock, they got her fired, forcing her to sell her hair, her teeth and finally her body to keep her child alive. And... then she died.

No... I'm hoping my dreams end up a little better. Why then, you may ask, did I post this sad song in the first place?

Because that's one of my three big dreams. Not the selling of my body. Getting my butt on the musical stage.

Yes. I am one of those little girls who had dreamt of becoming an actress and never stopped dreaming. Please note. Actress. NOT famous.

I've never been all that fussed with fame, really. I just enjoy entertaining people above almost everything else.

I guess that love is the other reason why my second big dream exists. The one people are most familiar with. I want to become a published author.

Last but not least, I want my own clothing label.

Why am I sharing this? Well. You know where you get people who want to be engineers above all else? Or doctors, or presidents or astronauts and all those things? Well, I spent the latter half of my life thinking that I had no such passions because I was basically told by everyone I knew that I was to clever for my first loves.

So, in a way, that song fits, because since I was in the eighth grade until my second year at university (seven long years), my life did kill my dreams. Only my love of writing remained.

In 2008, my life started to choke me out. I couldn't handle the course, so in an attempt to save myself, I changed courses to a clean commercial degree. I thought that I would take six months to recover from the worst period in my life to date (and that includes the death of my Grandfather and the later divorce of my father). I was wrong.

It spanned a total of two years. That feeling that I was living in a dark hole. That feeling that I didn't have the power nor the inclination to climb out. What was the point? I'd think to myself. It wasn't as if my getting back to high performance made me happier than before.

See, I'd thought that it was my failure to perform academically that got me in Actuarial Science. It wasn't. When I left the course, I almost immediately shot up again. For a while. After a while, it didn't matter and by exam time, I was back in the same hole that I'd struggled out of six months before.

My mother and I fought endlessly by this time, because the girl she knew, the one filled with determination and passion was gone. By the end of 2009, I was a shell. I'd hit rock bottom. I wasn't even looking up anymore. The hole had become my home.

I didn't even get predicate for two of my subjects. That was how miserably I failed. It was also one of the most important events of my life. Because in a discussion with one of the lecturers to allow me special predicate, he asked me something that shook me to the core.

Just who are you trying to please? 

Just like that, my thinking changed, because I realized something.  All my life, I conformed with what people expected of me because of the fact that I happen to be somewhere in the upper percentiles of intelligence. Because of that, I killed my own dreams, settling with second best and writing when there was supposed to be so much more to my life. I'd lost everything. Who I was, how I measured myself, everything, because I listened to other people too much.

Of course I wouldn't be able to function. I was forcing myself to leave 70+% of my God-given gifts unused. Because my intelligence is one gift. A big gift. But just one. What of my ability to entertain? To sing? My creativity? My ability to face crowds without stage fright? My love of drawing and designing? My love of Art in general? Where were they being used? How were they being explored, stretched and grown?

They weren't. And that's what was slowly killing me. I'd been trading my soul, thinking that the individual bits wouldn't be that big, but forgetting how much I've already traded in order to please people who had no idea what it meant and could therefore not be grateful for my sacrifice.

I went digging for my dreams through the debris of my crumbled life, hoping that I had something that I could salvage. Writing came out first. It was the one I kept alive. The one that kept my soul together when the rest of my life was trying to get to me. Now it became bigger. I decided to stop starting WiPs and to finish one and pushing it to publishing.

Next, I found battered and bruised Drama. That's the one I love most. Also the one least tolerated. The one people did their level best to stamp out. I'd thought that dream was gone, but it was still there, but week. I hid that one until it became strong again. It took me about two years to mention this one to anyone I knew, but this time, it isn't going to wither. I recently started taking action to open a door to theatre. By taking singing lessons, I'm making it possible for me to perform in musicals. Drama lessons to refine my raw talent will follow.

Finally, I heard the small whisper of a voice reminding me of its existence. Design saw the assaults on Drama and went into hiding. Now that Drama is up and running, Design decided it could test the waters again.

And so, after months of looking for a dream, a passion, I found three.

And this time, I'm not letting go of a single one.

What are your dreams? Do you still nurture them?


Theresa said...

I'm proud of you my friend. You have found the Holy Grail of a fulfilled life.

Laura Pauling said...

Glad you're taking charge! And she does an incredible job with this song but Susan Boyle is a close second!

Maria Basia said...

It takes a long time to learn that you can only do what is right for yourself in this world. You never gave up, even when you thought you might have, you did not. You have no power over the past or tomorrow, but just this exact moment. This, I found, is the way to live and work on the dreams...I empathise with you so much. Thanks for sharing.

Leovi said...

Beautiful and very emotional issue. I love your thoughts and conclusions.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

It's good when you can take charge of ones life.
I admire you very much,
I love the song, but must admit I love Susan Boyle's version.

Thanks for your comment on my blog, much appreciated,

Susan Kane said...

Oh, Misha! I am so proud of you, pursuing your dreams. Too often our 'dreams' are the ones our parents had for us. Your life sounded very close to mine. When I was 37, I took hold of the situation we were in; with 3 children, and a husband who wanted to be a professional student, I supported our family as a teacher. Teachers are among the best actors in the world, in case you didn't know. The church we joined had a drama program, and I was on stage! Now, I am writing again.
I thought all those avenues were cut off from me, that I would never get to fulfill them. Better now than never.
My wishes go out to you, Misha!

Stephanie Faris said...

You see, my problem as a kid was I wanted the fame. I wanted to be an actress, but not for the right reasons, as you did...and THAT is why I wasn't an actress. When I tried it in high school I found I had absolutely zero ability. Too many people are like me and get caught up in the image of what we think an actress does...but the reality is you have to have a love for the craft first, work at it, and if success follows, great, but it's just like writing in that you have to have that love for it first.

Al Penwasser said...

Very thoughtful and well written. Never give up your dreams! Luckily, most of my dreams have been fulfilled (with the exception of playing second base in the Major Leagues). My most successful dreams: my two children and my wife. Sappy as that is, well, there it is.

Misha said...

Thanks friend!

Thanks Laura. I agree with you there. Susan Boyle did do it well, but I must say that the extra meaning from acting out the story just adds to the meaning of the song.

Maria, that is so true. If I relive the past too much or dream of the future too much, I might forget to live right now. Thanks for your wise comment. :-)

Thanks Leovi!

Thanks Yvonne! I love Susan Boyle's version too, but her approach was so different that I almost think that you can't compare the two.

Susan, your comment just motivated me all the more. You managed to go after what you enjoyed! Wonderful to know. :-D

Al, that is a wonderful dream to have. I'm glad that your biggest dreams came true - even if you missed out on the baseball...