I remember when I was a kid, I always had big plans. I was interested in so much. I wanted to do so much. And be so many things. But I didn’t just want to be an ice skater, I wanted to be an Olympic ice skater. (Although I never even took lessons.) I didn’t just want to be a singer, I wanted to be a famous singer. (Even though I took lessons, that was never gonna happen.) I didn’t just want to write, I wanted to publish books. (Does an instructor’s manual count?) The point is, when I wanted to do something, I envisioned myself shooting straight to the top, going all out, being the best. Call it confidence or naivete, I never considered myself falling short. Because I never just wanted to try a little bit. Even if I eventually (or quickly) lost interest, I didn’t doubt that I could be successful at whatever I wanted to achieve.
That assurance faded over the years as reality surfaced. The truth can set you free, but it can also dispirit. Success is not a given and that disappointment can be quelling.
I recently talked to a friend who has taken up writing. She spends a lot of time on it. Goes to conferences, works with a mentor, writes and rewrites. The hours she spends on it doesn’t seem laborious for she finds joy in the process. Her newfound passion reminded me of my own big plans because I think she still holds the key we so often lose as we get older. It’s really not the final outcome that matters the most, but how much we enjoy the process. I think maturity is a binary opposition, helping us weed out the childish nonsense but often forcing us to lose the child we were.
I’m thankful for the reminder, especially now. Lately, everything has seemed a bit tedious. Everything seems like work because work has taken a central spot in my life. And it’s been a tumultuous spot. While I can’t define it as unsuccessful, it still seems like it’s falling short. Disappointing for reasons outside my control. I need to get back to big thinking, knowing that the final outcome won’t matter. I need to change focus and find some joy in the doing. Of something.